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Page 29_Resmed Swift LT Nasal Pillows2Many people living with neuromuscular disorders find that their sleep is impacted by complications resulting from weakened muscles.

An article published by the Muscular Dystrophy Association in Quest notes that some of the common ‘sleep disturbances’ include:

  • Snoring
  • Choking or gasping
  • Restless tossing and turning
  • Sweat
  • Waking up with
    • Fatigue
    • Headaches
    • Sore throat
    • Dry mouth
    • Memory or concentration problems
    • Excessive sleepiness during the day
    • Falling asleep at inappropriate times (eating, talking, driving)

All of these symptoms could possibly mean that you are experiencing respiratory issues during the night, and these should be brought to your doctor immediately:

For those with neuromuscular diseases, breathing problems during sleep may be caused or complicated by the fact that the muscles that aid respiration — the diaphragm and intercostals (between the ribs) — have been weakened by muscle disease.

Weak respiratory muscles can lead to nocturnal hypoventilation (ineffective breathing during sleep) or nocturnal apnea (periodic cessation of breathing during sleep), when gravity, body position and neurological factors naturally make breathing efforts less effective.

Your doctor may suggest one of the following:

A simple method used to assess nighttime breathing difficulties is to measure exhaled carbon dioxide in combination with pulse oximetry, which painlessly measures blood oxygen levels through the placement of a small clip on a finger or toe. Typically these tests may be done at home, overnight while the patient sleeps.

A more sophisticated assessment tool is a sleep study or polysomnogram (PSG), which pinpoints the causes of fragmented or disrupted sleep through a combination of measurements, including: encephalographic (brain) activity, eye movement, muscle activity, heart rhythm, respiratory effort, nasal and oral airflow, oxygen saturation, carbon dioxide levels, limb movements and snoring. Polysomnograms are performed in a specialized sleep laboratory or sleep center, and last from seven to 12 hours.

These are only a few methods. For the full article, click here courtesy the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Contact your health care professional for individual assessment.

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