Peak's Blog

Harvard Study Shows CPAP Masks Grow Bacteria & Fungus Over Time

A 2009 study at Harvard University, by Dr. Alex Horowitz, Dr. Sandra Horowitz and Dr. Chinhak Chun showed that over time, CPAP masks, even when cleaned and taken care of regularly, contain high amounts of bacteria colonies and fungus.

The study looked at CPAP masks, hoses and humidifiers of 24 people – 16 men and 8 women – and concluded that 48 per cent of the CPAP masks tested contained more than 2000 bacteria colonies after 48 hours.

Swabs were taken from the interface (where the mask seals to your face) of the mask and at the base of the hose and humidifier. These swab samples were then tested for bacteria colony counts 24 and 48 hours later.

What they found was, there is a correlation between older masks and higher amounts of bacteria, no matter how often or well the mask was cleaned.

Because of this, experts recommend replacing the mask and hose at least once every six months to guard against bacteria build up.

While none of the people in the study said they had become ill more often since starting CPAP therapy, eight complained of being more susceptible to nasal congestion.

Because hand washing is widely regarded as the best way to fight bacteria and germs by medical professionals, washing your CPAP mask and equipment is recommended as the best way control bacteria in your CPAP mask and equipment. As well, remember to replace your CPAP mask every 3-to-6 months.


13 Foods to Help You Sleep Like a Baby

We all know energy drinks, such as coffee and chocolate help keep us up at night, which is why you should never consume them after about 6 p.m. But did you know that some foods have been shown in studies to actually help you get to sleep?

Courtesy of Reader’s Digest, here are the Top-13 foods you should add to your diet if you’re having trouble sleeping.


Cheese and Crackers

In the old days, people used to say that warm milk would help you get to sleep. But truth be told, almost any dairy product can help you get a good night’s rest. Calcium (found in cheese, yogurt, milk, etc.) helps the brain use the tryptophan found in dairy to manufacture sleep-triggering melatonin.


Walnuts are a good source of tryptophan, a sleep-enhancing amino acid that helps make serotonin and melatonin. These two chemicals work to setup your sleep/wake cycles. Additionally, University of Texas researchers found that walnuts contain their own source of melatonin, which may help you fall asleep faster.


A salad with dinner can speed up your bedtime since lettuce contains
lactucarium, which has some sedative properties and affects on the brain, which are curiously similar to opium. You can also try this brew from the book Stealth Health: Simmer three to four large lettuce leaves in a cup of water for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, add two sprigs of mint, and sip just before you go to bed.


Almonds are rich in magnesium, a mineral that research suggests is needed for quality sleep. A study published in the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine found that when the body’s magnesium levels are too low, it makes it harder to stay asleep.

Tuna, Halibut & Salmon

Fish such as tuna, halibut, and salmon are high in vitamin B6 (a vitamin that is key for your body to make melatonin and serotonin). Other foods high in B6 include raw garlic and pistachio nuts.


According to an Australian study, white rice has a high glycemic index, so eating it will significantly slash the time it takes you to fall asleep. In particular, jasmine rice has been shown to bring on shut-eye faster. Research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who ate a meal that included jasmine rice fell asleep faster than when they ate other rice types.

Cherry Juice

According to researchers from Pennsylvania and Rochester Uiversities, a glass of cherry juice could make you fall asleep faster. Cherries, particularly tart cherries, naturally boost levels of melatonin. In the study, subjects who drank cherry juice experienced some
improvement with their insomnia symptoms.

Chamomile Tea

Steeping a cup of chamomile tea will help you sleep. Research suggests, drinking the tea is associated with an increase of glycine, a chemical that relaxes nerves and muscles and acts like a mild sedative.

Passionfruit Tea

An Australian study found that drinking a cup of passionfruit tea one hour before bed helped people sleep more soundly. It is believed that the Harman alkaloids(chemicals found in high levels in the fruit) act on your nervous system to make you tired.


The natural sugar found in honey slightly raises insulin and allows tryptophan to enter the brain more easily, this is according to nutritionist Lindsey Duncan, A spoonful before bed or mixed with chamomile tea has been shown to give some people a more restful sleep.


This wild game meat, which is fairly easy to find here in Alberta, has nearly twice the tryptophan of turkey breast meat. This means you’re much more likely to nod off after eating elk, especially with a side of carbohydrates like potatoes to help the tryptophan reach the brain.


Chickpeas are also a good source of tryptophan, so a light lunch of hummus and whole-grain crackers (to help the tryptophan reach the brain), could be a good way to head into an afternoon nap.


Green leafy vegetables like kale are loaded with calcium, which helps the brain use tryptophan to manufacture melatonin. Spinach and mustard greens are other good options.


Sleepytime Salmon Salad

Ingredients (1 serving)
1 Medium-sized Salmon Fillet
2 1/2 Cups of Leaf Lettuce
1/2 Cup of Kale
1/2 Cup of Cherry Tomatoes
1/3 Cup of Diced Cucumbers
1/3 Cup of Chickpeas
Goat Cheese (to taste)
Sliced Almonds (to taste)
Salt & Pepper (to taste)
30 ml Balsamic Vinegar
100 ml Olive Oil
1/4 of a Shallot – finely chopped
15 ml Dijon Mustard
1 Garlic Clove (minced)
30 ml Cherry juice

– Pre-heat the oven to 350°C
– Place the Salmon in a baking dish and lightly season with salt & pepper
– Bake for about 20 minutes, let cool and slice into one inch strips and remove skin

– In a bowl, toss lettuce and kale and place on a plate
– Add cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, chickpeas, goat cheese, almonds and salmon

– In a bottle, combine balsamic vinegar, olive oil, shallot, dijon mustard, garlic and cherry juice, and shake the mixture well – refrigerate what is not used

Sleep Psychology 101

Chris Rozell is a Registered Provisional Psychologist with Peak Medical Specialty Centres, specializing in sleep psychology.

He developed his passion for studying the nervous system through his experience working with families and individuals living with developmental disabilities and brain injuries.

Chris has also done extensive work in looking at how people react physically to certain stressors in their life (biofeedback), as well as monitoring people’s brain activity when under stress.

Throughout his clinical work, Chris has noticed that many patients seeking support with cognitive and emotional challenges also struggle with sleep issues. Providing a holistic approach to wellness, Chris continues to develop innovative biofeedback protocols to improve sleep.

We sat down with Chris to learn a little more about how we “think”, impacts our sleep, and to get a few tips on how we can improve the quality of sleep we’re getting each night.

What is sleep psychology?

Sleep psychology focuses primarily on how our thought process and behaviour impacts a person’s quality of sleep. It also deals with how sleep affects our ability to function in general.

What are some common reasons people have trouble sleeping?

There are four general factors that impact a person’s sleep.

The first is the set of genetic factors that influence an individual’s general state of vigilance. Some people have a tendency to have more sympathetic nervous system activity, which increases alertness in general.

Second, environmental factors of many types can reduce our ability to fall asleep, or stay asleep. These can include noises and other forms of daily stimulation (e.g. light intake).

Third, our daily behaviours have a strong impact on sleep. For example, variables related to exercise and diet can both increase and decrease our ability to sleep. Additionally, illness and injury can reduce sleep as pain and other symptoms can wake us up or prevent sleep onset.
Finally, our conditioned responses can both improve or decrease our ability to sleep. As stressors invoke increasing amounts of anxiety, sleep tends to suffer. Alternatively, as a person clears his/her mind and looks forward to the comfort of the sleep environment, the body can naturally initiate the sleep cycle.

What are some things people can do to help with those sleeping issues?

Many of the behaviours suggested in the previous question can improve sleep. Exercising/stretching, eating a balanced diet, developing a consistent sleep routine, actively managing stress, controlling environmental factors (e.g. preventing pets from disturbing our slumber), can all have positive effects on sleep.
There are also behaviour strategies, thinking strategies, physiological strategies, attention strategies, and environmentally based strategies that can promote a restful sleep. Making an appointment with a sleep psychologist is a great way to learn more about these strategies,

In what way does sleep impact a person’s mental state?

Quality of sleep is directly related to so many aspects of a person’s daily life. Memory, focus, vigilance, and energy, among others, rely on a good night’s sleep. Even our immune system can be altered by changes in sleep.


If you’re having trouble sleeping Chris Rozell may be able to help you understand why. To make an appointment with Chris Rozell, call : 403-265-8126.

No doctor referral needed.

What to Expect During Your Sleep Study & Trial

The first step in determining if you have Sleep Apnea is to do a simple, take-home sleep study.

This study can be done at home in the comfort of your own bed and is offered FREE by Peak Sleep Clinics.

Simply make an arrangement with the Peak Sleep Clinic near you to pick up the testing kit. Take the testing kit home, put it on (according to the instructions you are given) and follow your regular sleep routine.

These studies are convenient to just about everyone and don’t require your to spend the night in a strange lab.


The testing kit is made up of four main parts:

Recording device- The recording device is a small computer that is about the size of your cell phone. This recording device is attached to the chest band and will generally sit on your chest. This is where all the information from the study will be recorded. Make sure to turn on the recording device just before you go to sleep.

Chest band- The chest band serves a duel purpose in the
testing kit. The first role it has is to hold the recording device securely against your chest. The second role of the chest band is to monitor your breathing as you sleep. When putting on the chest band you want it to fit snug, but not too tight.

Nasal prongs- The nasal prongs sit just inside of your nostrils. The role of this piece is to monitor your airflow as you sleep, recording how much air goes in, comes out and if there are any stoppages in breathing. This piece usually fits nicely into a person’s nostrils and is undetectable to most people. A small piece of tape can be used to hold in place if you have any issues.

Finger monitor- The finger monitor slides on to the end of your index finger. The role of this piece is to monitor your heart rate and oxygen levels as you sleep. On occasion, people will use tape on the wires and tubes so that they don’t get tangled as they sleep. Make sure this piece is on snug so it does not fall off as you sleep.


The next day, simply bring back the testing kit to your Peak Sleep Clinic and make an appointment for a sleep expert to go over the results with you.

Once you have completed your free, overnight sleep study, a Peak Sleep Clinic expert will go over the results with you and

determine whether you have Sleep Apnea. If you do have Sleep Apnea, a Peak Sleep Clinic Respiratory Therapist (RT) can tell you how severe it is.

If it is determined you have a positive result of having Sleep Apnea, it is highly recommended that you move to the next stage of treating your Sleep Apnea: The sleep trial stage.

During this stage you will work with a Peak Sleep Clinic RT to determine which machine and mask combination is right for you.

Once you decide this, you will take the machine and mask home and use it each night on a trial basis.

The average sleep trial lasts about one month, but it is common to extend it longer in order to make sure that the treatment is working properly and making your life better.

Currently, Peak Sleep Clinics charge $200 for this trial period, but that charge is then put towards the purchase of your own personal CPAP machine; should you decide to purchase one through Peak Sleep Clinics.


Step 1- You will meet with your Peak Sleep RT for a one-on-one meeting. In this meeting, you will learn about your test results, the equipment and supplies needed to treat your Sleep Apnea, how the CPAP machine works, what your mask options are, how the mask should fit and the RT will answer any questions or concerns you may have.

Step 2- After you have been going through treatment for three-to-three days, your Peak Sleep RT will follow-up with a phone call. This call is to answer any questions that may have come up along the way, as well as, check in with you to see how the
treatment is going.

Step 3- About one month into your trial you will meet with your Peak Sleep RT again to talk about how your trial has been. Please bring ALL your equipment (mask, hose and CPAP machine) to the appointment. During this appointment you will talk about CPAP therapy and if it is helping with your Sleep Apnea. At this time, your RT will likely have enough information to help you decide if CPAP therapy is the best way to combat your Sleep Apnea (although they may ask you to continue with the trial for another two-to-four weeks to make sure the therapy is working. During this extension of the trial, you’ll likely have your the settings on your CPAP machine adjusted to ensure the therapy is working at its “peak” capacity.



Come take a Peak Sleep Clinic sleep test in March to see if you have Sleep Apnea and you could win tickets to see the Calgary Flames or a Calgary Co-op $100 gift card.

Schedule your sleep test by calling 1-855-738-PEAK (7325) or 403-265-8149

Why Sleep Is So Important

Have you ever wondered why we need to sleep?

Well, think of your body like a car and sleep as part of the maintenance to keeping the car running in tip-top shape.

When we sleep, all sorts of things happen to refresh us for the next day, such as, healing any damage to our body, boosting our immune system, recovering from a workout, recharging our cardiovascular system and refocusing our minds.

And if you’ve ever gone a night or two without much sleep, you know the consequences. Like a car without fluids, your body is left preforming poorly and ready for a piston or two to blow.

But even though we know this, many people still don’t get the seven-to-nine hours of quality sleep each night.

The Sleep Cycle

When we sleep, we go through something called the sleep cycle. This cycle consists of two phases: REM (rapid eye movement) and NREM (non-REM or non-rapid eye movement).

NREM sleep is the state we’re in for 75–80% of our total sleep time. Much of our body’s daily maintenance happens during NREM sleep, such as, tissue growth and repair, energy is restored and hormones that are essential for growth and development are released.

REM sleep typically takes up 20–25% of our sleep each night. REM sleep, is the fun part of our sleep, because it’s when we do our dreaming. Dreams are essential to our minds for processing and consolidating emotions, memories and stress.

Dreaming is also believed to be vital for learning, stimulating the brain regions used in learning and developing new skills. If the REM and NREM cycles are interrupted multiple times throughout the night (usually interruptions are caused by snoring, difficulty breathing or waking up) we miss out on fully recharging our bodies. Not being fully recharged can affect our health and well-being the next day and long term.

What happens if you don’t get enough sleep?

If your body doesn’t get a chance to properly recharge – by cycling through REM and NREM sleep – you will be starting the next day behind the 8-ball.

Not getting enough sleep for your body to rest may cause you to feel drowsy, be irritable with others, feel depressed, have trouble taking in information, have
difficulty remembering things and have an impact on your decision making.

It’s also believed that people who don’t get enough quality sleep have more
cravings for unhealthy foods, which generally leads to weight gain and being overweight.

If you’re not getting enough sleep, night-after-night, your nervous system with be strained and your overall health will deteriorate.


If you’re not sleeping well or aren’t feeling well rested when you wake up in the morning, it’s important to talk to your doctor.Consider making an appointment at Peak Sleep Clinic for a FREE take home sleep study.

Schedule your sleep test by calling 1-855-738-PEAK (7325) or 403-265-8149

Life is Better When you can Actually Sleep!

Adam Smith used to snore…BAD!

At one point, while he was spending the night at his friend Robert Patterson’s house, his snoring was so loud that it prevented Patterson from getting any sleep, and he was resting two floors below Smith.

“It was like someone was working on their motorcycle two floors above me, and they were pulling an all nighter,” Patterson said. “I was close to literally going upstairs and telling my best friend he’d have to spend the night sleeping in his car or a hotel room – it was that bad.”

In the morning, Patterson, who at the time was studying to become a respiratory therapist, sat Smith down and told him to get tested for Sleep Apnea.

“I’d heard the term Sleep Apnea before, but I had no idea what it meant,” Smith said. “I knew it had something to do with snoring but that was about as in depth as I knew at the time.”

Sleep Apnea is a common disorder that impacts the health of one-in-four
Canadian men and one-in-nine Canadian women – most of whom don’t even know they have the disorder.

Sleep Apnea causes short pauses or stoppages in breathing while a person sleeps. These pauses are referred to in the medical world as apneas.

Apneas are caused by a blockage or partial blockage of a person’s airway, which temporarily stops breathing. When the brain realizes that the person isn’t
breathing, it awakes the sufferer just enough to take a breath.

“I wasn’t even aware this was going on while I slept,” Smith said. “Once Robert explained what was likely going on while I slept and the possible health risks, I knew it was time to talk to my doctor about it.”

When Smith returned home he visited his family doctor to share his newly found health concerns, which he now felt meant he had Sleep Apnea.

“As I was learning more about Sleep Apnea from the doctor, suddenly all my random naps at odd times made sense,” Smith said. “I would fall asleep at work and even once in the middle of a conversation.”

Those events and the recommendation of his doctor led Smith to see a sleep specialist. Visiting a sleep clinic for a sleep test is the best way to confirm if you have Sleep Apnea and confirm the severity of the condition.
“I went into the sleep clinic at about 9 p.m. and they put you in a room and you sleep there overnight.”

While at the sleep clinic, Smith had electrodes taped to his head to monitor his brain activity. Tests similar to this are available through Peak Sleep Clinics for free and you can do them from the comfort of your own bed.

“It was a little weird, but well worth it to find out I had Sleep Apnea.”
A few days after his sleep test, Smith returned to the sleep clinic for his results.
“I was on the severe end of the spectrum, as I was having around 60 apneas per hour.”

Suddenly there was an explanation for why he’d fall asleep during conversations. Adam was essentially waking up for a brief second once every minute.

The Sleep Specialist’s recommendation to treat Smith’s Sleep Apnea: CPAP Therapy.
CPAP therapy is a very simple, easy, non-invasive therapy to treat Sleep Apnea and help those that suffer with the disorder get a restful night’s sleep.

Basically, the person wears a mask (see page 13 for types of masks) while they sleep and a CPAP machine will lightly pump air pressure through the mask. This light air pressure keeps the airway open, so that blockages do not occur.

“I thought whatever, I’ll try it (CPAP therapy) for a few weeks and see how it goes,” Smith said. “Pretty quickly I noticed a difference in my health because I wasn’t tired all the time.”

However, like most people, Smith had concerns over what it was going to be like to sleep with a mask on.

Would it stay on? How comfortable would it be to sleep with a mask on? And what would others think, were all thoughts that ran through his head.

“It took like two, maybe three nights, and sleeping with the mask on became normal,” Smith said. “It was just a matter of knowing how much give I had in the hose, because I didn’t want to roll over and pull the machine off the night-table, so once I got used to that, it was all good.”

Two years have past since Smith decided to treat his Sleep Apnea with CPAP therapy.
And what’s the biggest difference he’s noticed in his health?

“Well, I sleep a lot better and I don’t need to take constant naps or fall asleep in weird random places anymore, and I don’t snore.”

“Life is a whole lot better when you can actually sleep well.”


*Story based on patient’s experiences


Come take a Peak Sleep Clinic Sleep test in March to see if you have Sleep Apnea and you could win tickets to see the Calgary Flames or a Calgary Co-op $100 gift card.

Schedule your sleep test by calling 1-855-738-PEAK (7325) or 403-265-8149


What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep Apnea is a partial or complete blockage of a person’s airway that occurs while they are in a state of deep sleep. The blockage is usually caused by (one or several) relaxed throat muscles, a large tongue, a narrow airway, or extra tissue in the neck area, which relaxes to the point that it droops into the airway. Because the airway is momentarily blocked, the person experiences short pauses in their breathing rhythm. These pauses in breathing are called apneas and they happen several times during the night – generally getting longer and/or more frequent as the night goes on.
Apneas generally last 10-to-30 seconds, depending on how your body reacts to not getting air into its lungs. Since you’re essentially not breathing for various lengths of time during the night, your oxygen level drops down, alerting your brain to cough, gag or snort to clear the blockage. In the process of clearing the blockage, a person will wake up or come out of their deepest form of sleep – Third Level, Non Rapid Eye Movement Sleep (NREM 3). By not getting enough NREM3 sleep, a person’s overall health is affected, usually leaving them tired and at greater risk of illnesses and other conditions.

Come take a sleep test at  a Peak Sleep Clinic in March to see if you have Sleep Apnea and you could win tickets to see the Calgary Flames or a Calgary Co-op $100 gift card.

Schedule your sleep test by calling 1-855-738-PEAK (7325) or 403-265-8149


What is CPAP Therapy?

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure therapy, or CPAP as it is often called is the best way to treat Sleep Apnea and in most cases it also prevents snoring.

As you likely already know, an apnea is when your tongue, neck tissue or something else blocks your airway while you are asleep, and as a result, your body stops breathing for a brief moment until you clear the blockage – usually done by snorting or coughing.

In order to prevent this from happening, CPAP therapy lightly pushes warm, humidified air through a hose, into a mask and down your airway to prevent blockages from occurring. Think of it like a steady flow of water going through a hose so that the hose doesn’t collapse on its self.

While the air pressure varies depending on the person, you can be assured that it will not impact how you exhale and you won’t experience any serious side effects to CPAP therapy as long as you are using it correctly.

By having air constantly flowing through a person’s airway, their airway remains open and allows the person to breath the entire time they are sleeping. Being able to breath continuously allows for the person to get a much better quality of sleep, which generally leads to the person waking up with more energy, focus and a smile on their face.

Types of CPAP Machines

There are two types of CPAP machines on the market – automatic and standard.

Automatic CPAP machines vary the air pressure according to what the person needs to keep their airway open. They do by sensing the airflow through a person’s airway and providing pressure to open the airway when the airflow slows down and indicates that there is an obstruction.

If airflow decreases due to a partial or complete obstruction, an automatic CPAP machine will increase the pressure to keep the airway open. The pressure will decrease again when the airway reopens.

Standard CPAP machines work off an airflow which is programmed into the machine. This means that every person’s standard machine will be a little bit different based on the person’s needs. Needs can change throughout the night or even in some cases, from night to night.

There are two way to find out what your ideal settings are with a standard CPAP machine. One, take a sleep test in a lab where a sleep expert can adjust the air pressure as you sleep to determine what levels are ideal for you. Or two, do a trial with an automatic CPAP machine to give you a pressure trend reading, so that you have an idea what the settings should be.

The three most popular brands of CPAP machines are ResMed, Fisher & Paykel and Philips Respironics. All three brands have recieved good reviews from our patients. Prices for the auto CPAP machine, mask and hose start at around $2,400 dollars (price includes a 1-month CPAP trial). Financing options availible through Medicard

When to Use CPAP Therapy

In order to receive the full benefits of CPAP therapy you must use your machine whenever you sleep. This includes all daytime naps and the main overnight sleep. If you wake up and the mask has fallen off, calmly put it back on and try to go back to sleep. CPAP therapy will not work without the mask snuggly secured to your face.

Do people Really Sleep With the Mask on?

It’s not uncommon for people to think, “There is no way I can get used to sleeping with that mask and machine”.

Don’t let that feeling alarm you, as it is common for people to feel that way. But rest assured, 75% of people that don’t think they can do it, usually get used to sleeping with the mask within a week.




Come take a Peak Sleep Clinic Sleep test in March to see if you have Sleep Apnea and you could win tickets to see the Calgary Flames or a Calgary Co-op $100 gift card.

Schedule your sleep test by calling 1-855-738-PEAK (7325) or 403-265-8149

Has Your Doctor Told You, ‘You’re Allergic to ASPIRIN? Get a Second Opinion




A recent study by the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology showed that 34 per cent of people diagnosed by their family doctor as having ASPIRIN hypersensitivity, do not have an ASPIRIN allergy.

This information is concerning, as ASPIRIN is often used as a simple medication for people suffering from various forms of heart disease. Ruling out a simple solution without a proper diagnoses from an allergist could be preventing some people from using an effective, low-cost medication that has few side effects.

“One issue with ASPIRIN or other types of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) is they are unpredictable,” says Dr. Collin Terpstra, an allergist with Peak Medical Specialty Centres.

Doctor Terpstra also added, that patients may react to NSAIDS at times when they are not well, but won’t react when they are feeling healthy.

“A Patient may need three doses of NSAIDS in a day to react to that drug, but their body is can handle one dose without any problems,” Dr. Terpstra said. “This can be the case with a lot of over the counter medications that give people an upset stomach, which gets misdiagnosed as an allergy.

Doctor Terpstra’s colleague at Peak Medical Specialty Centres, allergist Dr. Teresa Pun, agrees and says that a lot of the times patients simply bring up these symptoms during casual conversation with their family doctor – thus leading to a false diagnoses.

“The vast, vast majority of the time, these are not true drug allergies, but merely known side effects, complications or nonimmunologic reactions to the drug, that generally won’t lead to death,” says Dr, Pun.

She also added, that a false aspirin allergy can hurt cardiac patients – most of whom are elderly – because ASPIRIN is great at lowering the risk of cardiovascular events.

“The bottom line is all drug allergies need to be assessed by an allergist.”


If you have been told or you think you’re allergic to aspirin, penicillin or any other drug, talk you your doctor about seeing an allergist for confirmation of the allergy.

Peak Medical Specialty Centres has four allergists located in Calgary and Red Deer with appointments available in as little as one month. For more information on Peak Medical Specialty Centres, visit



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