Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Time for Santa to Get Healthy?

Chances are, Dr. Glenn Braunstein hasn’t written to Santa since he was a kid. But this year, Dr. Braunstein decided to confront old St. Nick about health in a letter to the North Pole.

Dr. Braunstein explains why Santa Clause should be more concerned about his health. Santa is, after all, a role model for millions of children worldwide.

His reasoning? Obesity increases a person’s risk for diabetes, hypertension, strokes, heart attacks, some cancers, and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). So obesity is not a lifestyle example Santa should be setting.

Dr. Braunstein jokes that Mrs. Clause most likely complains about Santa’s snoring. But it’s true that many people who have OSA snore very loudly. This snoring and gasping for breath occurs because the person has trouble breathing. In fact, spouses are often the people who notice that there is a problem with their bed partner’s health.

So what can Father Christmas do for his health?

Dr. Braunstein’s gives the following advice: Even if it’s too chilly to exercise outside, especially in the North Pole, he should hit the treadmill for 30 minutes a day. And if he wants to stop getting stuck in chimneys, Santa needs to lay off the cookies and try snacking on celery or carrots.

He leaves St. Nick with this parting thought. “You really need to take stock of your life, understand your risks and agree on a lifestyle change.”

There are more than 18 million Americans who suffer from OSA. Like Santa, many of us could take this advice to ensure that we live long, healthy lives.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that people with OSA accompany weight loss with oral appliance therapy or CPAP.

View Santa’s letter at the Huffington Post.

Image by Jon Seekford

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The Official Blog of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM) is intended as an information source only. Content of this blog should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment, and it is not a substitute for medical care, which should be provided by the appropriate health care professional. If you suspect you have a sleep-related breathing disorder, such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), you should consult your personal physician or visit an AASM-accredited sleep disorders center. The AADSM, and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, as the managing agent of the AADSM, assume no liability for the information contained on the Official Blog of the AADSM or for its use.