About Sleep Apnea, a common sleep disorder
Why should I be concerned about snoring and sleep apnea?
Sleep is critical to maintaining good mental and physical health every day. Damage from not enough sleep can occur in an instant, as in a car crash, or it can harm you over time. Sleep can affect how well you think, react, work, learn, and get along with others.
Sleep apnea interrupts a person’s normal, healthy sleep patterns. Sleep apnea can affect your quality of life including but not limited to fatigue, confusion, loss of memory, agitation, depression, hypertension, diabetes, stroke, cardiovascular disease and acid reflux. Sleep apnea is the most common sleep disorder, affecting nearly 1 out of every 8 individuals.
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This blockage reduces the oxygen reaching the brain and the rest of the body. When the oxygen level drops low enough the brain moves out of deep sleep causing the person to partially awaken. Breathing starts again; usually with loud gasping, snorting, choking, and many times snoring.
This may occur 5 to 30 times or more each hour, all night long. This disruption is usually so brief that you don’t remember. That said, because of the disruption in your sleep, you are unable to get the deep, restful sleep you need to feel your best. Sleep apnea stresses the rest of the body’s system, night after night. A good night sleep recharges the body and brain.
A good night sleep helps in healing and repairing your heart and blood vessels. Sleep helps maintain a healthy balance of the hormones that make you hungry (ghrelin) or full (leptin). Sleep deficiency, level of ghrelin goes up and the level of leptin goes down, making you feel hungrier than if you were well-rested. Sleep deficiency can also result in a higher than normal blood sugar level, which may increase your risk for diabetes. Your immune system relies on sleep to stay healthy.
How do you know if you have Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
Certain factors put you at increased risk for OSA.
- Excess weight. Fat deposits around your upper airway may obstruct your breathing. However, not everyone who has sleep apnea is overweight. Thin people develop this disorder, too.
- Neck circumference. People with a thicker neck may have a narrower airway.
- A narrowed airway. You may have inherited a naturally narrow throat. Or, your tonsils or adenoids may become enlarged, which can block your airway.
- Being male. Men are twice as likely to have sleep apnea. However, women increase their risk if they’re overweight, and their risk also appears to rise after menopause.
- Family history. If you have family members with sleep apnea, you may be at increased risk.
- Use of alcohol, sedatives or tranquilizers. These substances relax the muscles in your throat.
- Smoking. Smokers are three times more likely to have obstructive sleep apnea than are people who’ve never smoked. Smoking may increase the amount of inflammation and fluid retention in the upper airway.
- Nasal congestion. If you have difficulty breathing through your nose — whether it’s from an anatomical problem or allergies — you’re more likely to develop obstructive sleep apnea.
Symptoms of OSA include:
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Waking up unrefreshed in the morning
- Loud snoring
- Restless sleep
- Choking or stopping breathing during sleep
- Difficulty concentrating and poor memory
- Irritability or personality change
- Morning headaches
- Weight gain
If you feel like you may have Obstructive Sleep Apnea, please take a moment to take our Sleep Apnea Assessment Test. We will score it and let you know how we can help you.