Linking Insomnia with Mental Health

Sleep deprivation can have surprisingly serious effects to both our physical and mental health. In addition to fatigue, lack of sleep can cause increased levels of anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and even ADHD.

The relationship between insomnia and mental illness is a two-way street. Roughly 50% of adults who suffer from insomnia experience mental health issues, while 65% to 90% of adults who have depression experience some sort of sleep disorder. This can create a vicious cycle in that the inability to sleep can slow the recovery process of mental illnesses, while also increasing the chances of relapse.

While it is unclear how insomnia boosts the development of mental illness in those suffering from it, research suggests that it may hinder the ability to process negative emotions. A study at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine found that sleep-deprived patients who were shown unpleasant images reacted with much more emotion than those who were not sleep-deprived. Additionally, neuroimaging conducted showed that patients with insomnia had higher activity in the brain’s emotional processing area, suggesting that sleep deprivation can make it difficult to properly react to negativity.

Applying the proper treatment of mental illness to sleep disorders can provide some amount of improvement, but insomnia usually requires a specific type of treatment. While cognitive behavior therapy does effectively combat the symptoms of mental health issues, it has been shown that for patients suffering from both insomnia and some sort of mental illness, said mental illness was improved, though the insomnia remained.

Conversely, studies are being conducted to test whether or not treating insomnia can directly affect mental health outcomes. Previous evidence has been found linking sleep disorder medication with improved mental health, though no one form of treatment has been proven to guarantee success.

The good news about this ability to cross-study both mental illnesses and sleep disorders is that doctors are often able to treat both issues at once. Though there is a wide range of circumstances, some forms of treatment may provide relief for several symptoms. Antidepressants are often used to treat insomnia, as the sedatives can cause drowsiness in most patients.

The latest findings in research and studies of sleep disorders have added to the growing body of knowledge that these can cause impairments in the brain, contributing to emotional difficulties and some psychological conditions. Many people can attest to the fact that being tired can cause feelings of anger, short-temperedness, impatience, and mood swings. As research continues, professionals hope to uncover exactly why this is, and provide proper treatment with much higher levels of success.

How Oral Health Can Affect Your Sleep

Many people do not realize to what extent oral health affects the rest of the body. One such connection that people might be unaware of is the connection between dental health and a full night’s sleep, generally described as eight hours, though six or seven is also beneficial. If you have poor oral health, it can keep you awake at night, which in turn negatively affects your oral health. The main oral effect of lack of sleep is an increased risk of gum disease. It’s a circle that keeps going round and round unless you stay on top of your dental health and adopt regular sleeping habits.

Sleep, Stress, and Oral Health

While oral health could cause a lack of sleep, it’s also possible that another problem altogether is affecting your sleeping habits and dental health. If you’re experiencing a significant amount of stress, this anxiety will come through during your sleep. You may grind your teeth, be unable to fall into a deep sleep, or continuously clench your jaw. You might develop canker sores, which can be incredibly painful and make it impossible for you to concentrate throughout the rest of your day.

If you begin developing a habit of going to bed at a regular time and getting a full night’s rest, it’ll be more likely that you’ll experience less stress. Learn how to manage your stress and you’ll soon find that you get a more restful night of sleep, which benefits you because you feel well-rested and are being proactive about your dental health.

Obstructive Sleep Disorders

Obstructive sleep disorders are caused when your throat muscles relax unintentionally and your breathing becomes cut off for a short period of time. Sleep apnea may be the most common of these disorders and can lead to significant health problems if it is not treated properly. Some of these problems include: diabetes, obesity, gum or heart disease, and various others.

Luckily, either you or your partner will notice your pauses in breathing at night, so you’ll know when it’s time to see a doctor about your sleep apnea. There are various devices you can get to help with your symptoms and other lifestyle alterations you can make, like exercising more, that may help with your sleep apnea symptoms.

Signs and Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder where the person affected stops and starts breathing throughout the night while asleep. It can be potentially serious and there are three different kinds: obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea, and complex sleep apnea syndrome. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs because the throat muscles relax while central sleep apnea is caused by the brain not sending the proper signals to the muscles that control breathing. Complex sleep apnea syndrome is when the patient has both kinds of sleep apnea. Because this sleep disorder can be particularly serious, be on the lookout for signs of it!

Loud snoring

While not everyone who snores suffers from sleep apnea, if you constantly snore and it’s disruptive to others in your household, it very well could be a sign of sleep apnea. Because you’re asleep, you won’t notice your snoring and it’ll be more difficult to catch your sleep disorder in the beginning. If your family is complaining about your snoring, go to see your doctor and find out if there’s anything that can be done.

Constantly tired

Because you are not getting a fulfilling sleep, it’s common that you’ll wake the next day feeling fatigued. Those with sleep apnea do not get restful sleep due to their fitful breathing, so they’ll often have trouble staying awake throughout the day, even after being in bed for a full night’s rest. Constant fatigue is the most common side effect of sleep apnea that people experience, even before they’re aware they have a sleeping disorder.

Morning headaches

Next to chronic fatigue, this symptom is most common in those with sleep apnea. Patients often wake the next morning with a headache, due to the lack of oxygen to their brain throughout the night, which can cause a vascular headache. You may also experience mood swings and irritability due to the lack of sleep you’re experiencing.

Noticeable breathing irregularities

In addition to snoring, your breathing will start and stop throughout the night if you have sleep apnea. You may wake up, but not realize why, so it can be hard to diagnose the disease right away. However, if you live with a significant other, they’ll likely notice your snoring and irregular breathing, which will cause you to see a doctor sooner. Sleep apnea can develop into a pretty serious condition and some people with it will experience their breathing starting and stopping hundreds of times throughout the night. If you suspect you have a sleeping disorder, see your doctor before it becomes more serious.

R. Kirk Huntsman | 3 Urgent Myths About Sleep-Disordered Breathing


Sleep-Disordered Breathing (SDB) comprises various chronic sleep conditions that cause some to many pauses in breathing throughout a person’s sleep cycle.  According to the American Thoracic Society (ATS), “A breathing pause of 10 seconds or more is termed an apnea.”  These apneas can cause moderate to severe health problems if not examined and treated by a physician.  SDB can result in chronic fatigue and tiredness, as well as much more severe symptoms such as a loss of life.  These symptoms can inhibit one’s ability to function fully during hours of wakefulness.

ATS goes on to say that one “must be evaluated by a polysomnogram (sleep test),… It has been suggested that 93% of women and 82% of men with signs and symptoms of moderate to severe SDB remain undiagnosed.”  This is why it is of the utmost importance that one knows the common misconceptions about SDB.  Below are three common misconceptions about SDB that need to be erased.

1) Sleep apnea does not affect someone’s ability to live a full life.

In the case of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), the most common SDB, it could be the difference between life and death.  “The most common breathing disorder of sleep is OSA, which is characterized by recurrent narrowing or collapse of the back of the throat because of the loss of muscle tone that occurs during sleep.”  OSA requires someone to get a machine that pressurizes the airway so that one can keep breathing when an apnea occurs.

2) Obesity, high blood pressure, atrial fibrillation, depression, diabetes, and other serious health issues do not relate to the quality amount of sleep someone gets.

By way of example, OSA affects the amount of insulin and growth hormones your body produces.  The first leads to diabetes, while the later leads to obesity.  When someone has had OSA for an extended period of time, such as the president, William Howard Taft, had, one can be diagnosed with atrial fibrillation.  These diseases and ailments are no laughing matter and need to be addressed immediately.

3) SDB cannot be caused by problems with the jaw and teeth.

One can make themselves open to getting cavities and swollen adenoids and tonsils when one has SDB.  These restrict breathing.  If you have a, “bad bite,” in your teeth, meaning they are crooked or overcrowded, this can cause the jaw to be set back further than normal, causing further restriction to the airway.  These symptoms can contribute significantly to SDB.

Overall, it is vital to get possible SDB symptoms checked.  It can be the difference between a lot of energy during the day or chronic fatigue.  It can be the difference between life and death at times.  Symptoms such as snoring or extended periods of apnea, should be examined by a physician.  There is value is having a dentist check your bite, as well.  SDB is common, but it can be fixed with simple treatments.

Pioneers In Sleep-Disordered Breathing Treatments: Dave Singh

Dr. Dave Singh is the current president of BioModeling Solutions, LLC, who received his education and training in England, and has become a prolific figure in the field of Orthodontics and Dentistry.

In addition to being the Director of Continuing Education for the SMILE Foundation, Dr. Singh is also a senior instructor, consultant, and Fellow for the International Association for Orthodontics, a member of the American Academy of Craniofacial Pain, and a member of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine.

Under all of these titles, Dr. Singh has conducted extensive research surrounding sleep disorders and how they are treated, specifically snoring and sleep apnea. Through this analysis, he has paved the way for a breakthrough in the field of sleep disorder treatment, and created a device known as the Daytime-Nighttime Appliance system, or DNA Appliance.

With a similar design to that of a retainer, the DNA Appliance provides improvement in snoring, sleep apnea, tooth alignment, and facial appearance in adults through a unique array of concepts, including Epigenetic orthopedics, which were first pioneered by Dr. Singh. This form of treatment requires no surgery, drugs, or injections of any kind, providing a safer, pain-free alternative to the remedy of sleep disorder.

Dr. Singh has developed this improvement by initially looking at standard procedures in curing sleep disorders. Rather than repositioning the mandible as most appliances/operations do, the DNA Appliance allows for the body to gently increase upper jaw size, which in turn increases the volume of the nasal airway. Not only has this invention provided a cure for snoring and sleep apnea, but in one case, it has resolved a patient’s history with migraines.

It has been concluded that with this innovation in the treatment of sleep disorders, the DNA Appliance could possibly be used in cosmetic dental practices as an alternative to invasive procedures, of which put patients at risk for further damage rather than repair or improvement. Dr. Singh has observed results in patients who underwent slight changes in their facial aesthetics, some being more prominent than others. Of these cases, certain people have regarded the change as a “non-surgical facelift.”

Dr. Singh’s invention has given a new sense of hope to not only those who experience troubling sleep disorders, but to people who also wish to see physical changes in the contours of their face. Without harmful surgery, medication, or injections, the DNA Appliance can give permanent results to patients without causing them further pain or discomfort, and pave the way for future medical breakthroughs.


Dr. Dave Singh Talks About the DNA Appliance

What You Should Know About Mandibular Advancement Devices

Age-Old Business Lessons from a Superstar Among Entrepreneurs

R. Kirk Huntsman on business lessons for entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurship has transformed drastically over the past few decades. Entrepreneurs might be starting new ventures in order to be their own boss or to chase a dream, yet there are still tried and true lessons that can be applied to just about any endeavor, whether it’s an e-commerce website, a private medical practice, or a social enterprise.

In a recent interview with Forbes, Virgin founder Richard Branson offered “business lessons he’d earned [sic] over the years did he think were just as relevant and valuable to new entrepreneurs today.”

Be a Problem Solver

Consider it the difference between a must-have and a nice-to-have product. Branson has summarized the distinction this way: “From the day I took my first steps as an entrepreneur, I’ve felt that the only mission worth pursuing in business is to make people’s lives better.”

Don’t Limit Your Motivation to Money

Research suggests that pursuing intrinsic motivators are the key to long-lasting success. (Think: engagement, inherent satisfaction and pleasure, the inward positive reinforcement that occurs from doing something regardless of the external rewards.) According to the 2010 article, Money Is Not The Best Motivator, “most successful entrepreneurs say that their primary motivation has been to build something lasting, not to make a lot of money…Money is a byproduct, and usually a secondary one at that, for such achievers.”

Be Prepared to “Pivot”

This one is especially revealing as it is well-documented that Branson has had some Virgin companies that haven’t fared as well as others. But he doesn’t count those ventures as failures, telling Forbes:

“A good example is our first venture Student magazine. After a healthy print run and some early success it became clear that the magazine wouldn’t turn a profit, however the section in the back pages where we’d sell mail-order records was booming. We stopped printing the magazine and opened a record store, and Virgin Records was born.”

The concept of “the pivot” has become popular in the lexicon of entrepreneurship since the 2011  publication of Eric Ries’ The Lean Startup. Ries defines a pivot as making “a structural course correction to test a new fundamental hypothesis about the product, strategy and engine of growth.”

Of course, there is no silver bullet for entrepreneurial success. But Richard Branson’s well-founded principles are a good blueprint from which to start.

Click here to read the full interview with Branson and Forbes writer Alison Coleman.

Want to be an Entrepreneur? Make Sure You Can Commit To These 3 Things.

R. Kirk Huntsman blog about commiting to startups

Think you’ve got an entrepreneurial spirit? Want to put your work experience to the test by launching your own business venture? Good for you. Entrepreneurism is a noble and worthwhile endeavor.

Maybe you want to make your side hustle your main hustle, or perhaps you’ve been quietly researching a genius “why hasn’t anyone thought of this?” idea for which you’ve already identified a target customer.

Whatever your entrepreneurial impulse, keep this in mind: “There’s a good chance you’re going to hate being an entrepreneur.” That’s the cautionary warning from Ellen Rubin, CEO and co-founder of ClearSky Data, who offers this advice in “The 3 Curve Balls That Strike Out the Most Entrepreneurs” for Entrepreneur.

In the article, Rubin shares the three most common challenges she has seen entrepreneurs face. The challenges that she lists are good ones, so I’m sharing them with you here in my blog. In my experience, the best way to overcome a challenge is to accept it, and to commit to knowing that it exists. So if you’re going to become an entrepreneur, here are three challenges you must commit to.

1. Commit to Being Okay with Being Alone

Holding fast to your ideas, even the ones that seem outlandish to your friends and colleagues, might mean keeping to yourself for a while. As your business changes from just thoughts in your head or on paper to an established outfit, you might be wise to reign in your impulse to share and seek the attaboy from others.  

Says Rubin:

“Are you a person who can’t stand feeling like an outsider, or needs validation from others to make decisions? If so, entrepreneurship might not be the path for you.”

2. Commit to Creating a Business Culture That Actually Works

For this, I’ll defer to Rubin’s own testimonial:

“Once, I was part of an early-stage startup team that struggled with a new hire. The person had ideal technical qualifications for the job, but she wasn’t fitting into our company’s culture. The team was small and close-knit, so this issue was a serious consideration. We weighed our options: let the culture take a back seat, or make a hard staffing decision that preserved the team’s original vision.

We chose the former, but we were wrong. Each of us had worked at companies with varying levels of employee engagement, and thought a less-engaged team member wouldn’t impact our company’s culture. In this case, the employee became increasingly unhappy and further detached without the support of her team, and the situation became more negative for all involved.”

3. Commit to Not Becoming a Billion-Dollar Unicorn

Don’t assume that your endeavor will be a straight-shot to success. Don’t assume that you will become rich and you’ll be one of the high-valuation startups that Rubin calls “billion-dollar unicorns.” There’s a wide

The Rise of Social Entrepreneurship

R Kirk Huntsman on the rise of social entrepreneurship

One of the appeals of entrepreneurship might be to become your own boss. But going into business for yourself doesn’t mean that you’ll be the only person who benefits from your enterprise.

Helping others is often a key part of being an entrepreneur. In fact, many entrepreneurs are turning to social entrepreneurship or using a business platform to give back to others.

According to a report by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), exponentially more people are interested in—and pursuing—social entrepreneurship.

If you’re unsure about what the term social entrepreneur means, look no further than Toms, the company that’s at the forefront of the “one for one” business model that helps a person in need with every product purchased. Toms began with a simple goodwill idea that turned into a global movement and a profitable business. The company fulfills this promise with various divisions, including Toms Shoes (that matches every pair of shoes purchased with a new pair of shoes for a child in need) and Toms Eyewear (purchases in this department help restore sight and supports sustainable community-based eye care programs). Since 2006, Toms Shoes has provided over 60 million pairs of shoes to children and Toms Eyewear has restored sight to more than 400,000 individuals.

But there are smaller ways to incorporate social entrepreneurship into a business model, says a recent Forbes article about the GEM study. For many people, social entrepreneurship is about what Siri Terjesen calls “people starting any initiative that has a social, environmental or community objective. Terjesen is one of the GEM study’s co-authors and a professor at American University.

What could those social, environmental or community objectives be? Anything from starting a furniture company that solely uses recycled materials or manufacturing affordable lamps and selling them to communities where there’s not reliable electricity

That said, true social entrepreneurship in a business-model sense is not for everyone—and should not be for everyone.

In a 2012 Harvard Business Review post, “Not Everyone Should Be a Social Entrepreneur,” Lara Galinsky says:

“Most members of this generation will not be social entrepreneurs, and they shouldn’t be. But if we can channel their altruism and give them the tools, methodologies, and frameworks from the most successful social entrepreneurs, they will be changemakers, champions, and supporters of the work. They will make meaningful contributions to the world not by founding organizations but by bringing their best selves — their heart and head — to their work.”

Galinsky knows of what she speaks. As the vice president of Echoing Green, a nonprofit that offers seed funding to social entrepreneurs launching bold organizations to solve big problems, she is directly charged with leading the next generation of leaders.

If you’re thinking about creating a new social enterprise—or incorporating a social enterprise into your existing business model—do your research. For starters,  Naomi Enevoldson’s website  is a great place to begin with helpful articles that help you answer questions, like “Is Social Entrepreneurship For You?” and “What Is a Social Entrepreneur?

Whenever, and however, you decide to fulfill your desire to do good and give back, never underestimate the power of one to help many.

More Baby Boomers Are Becoming Entrepreneurs (And Here’s Why)

Baby Boomers Are New Entrepreneurs by R. Kirk Huntsman

For most Baby Boomers, retirement is no longer a “sit back while drinking lemonade and  watching gameshows and taking naps” period of life. Rather, retirement is a Second Act (or a Third, Fourth or Umpteenth Act as it were).

Nothing makes this clearer than a recent stat showing that baby boomers are actually twice as likely as millennials to start their own businesses.

In an article for Philadelphia Magazine earlier this year, writer Jared Shelly takes a look at the various factors influencing the trend. As it turns out, there are many reasons that Baby Boomer are turning to entrepreneurship in so-called retirement.

Longer Lifespans

Average lifespans in developed countries have increased from approximately 50 years to more than 75 years, writes Shelly. While older age can seem like a factor that works against you in the traditional job market, it’s a plus in the entrepreneurial world.

In an interview with the University of Virginia, Jeff Williams a business coach for entrepreneurial Baby Boomers, says that customers and clients are always looking to pay for expertise, experience, and wisdom—all of which Baby Boomers have in spades.

Not only do Boomer entrepreneurs have the experience that comes with time on their side, they also have the extensive networks that come with have long careers. Williams says his average client, at about 57 years old, has over 2,000 people in their LinkedIn network. Professional networks can translate into customers and/or customer leads.

Financial Need

Many of Williams’ clients cite wanting to earn extra income as a motivation for starting a business later in life. Which is understandable, as Shelly’s article points out that a Pew Charitable Trusts study revealed: “the baby boomer generation lost between 25 and 28 percent of their median net worth during the recession.”

The Desire to Work (and to Keep Working) On Their Own Terms

“Boomer entrepreneurs have a very different perspective starting out,” says Williams in the UVA article.  “A 25-year-old entrepreneur thinks they may be Mark Zuckerberg. A 55-year-old has no such thoughts. They want to keep working into their 60s, doing work they enjoy on a flexible schedule and making some nice income to supplement their retirement earnings.”

The Pursuit of Passion & Purpose

What better time than your 50s, 60s and beyond to finally answer this meaning-of-life questions like, “What drives me?” and “What big idea have I always wanted to roll up my sleeves and execute?” Age doesn’t disqualify you from the game of life and making good on your longtime goals or your new dreams. What better time to build an entrepreneurial enterprise around your knowledge and lingering ambitions. Who says you have to call it quits?