Breathing in, breathing out – something we should never take for granted!
Take a deep breath in and, without releasing your deep breath, read to the end of the following paragraph.
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized with pauses in breathing, shallow breathing or infrequent breathing – during sleep. These pauses can last several seconds or several minutes and is much more than extreme snoring The paused breathing causes a dangerous build-up of carbon dioxide in the bloodstream. When the brain and body don’t get the required amount of oxygen, harmful and sometimes life-threatening side effects can occur.
Now release your deep breath. How do you feel? Imagine being asleep and doing that over and over throughout the night without realizing it. This is a small example of what people suffering from sleep apnea go through – every night. What’s even more shocking is the number of people who suffer from sleep apnea – and have no idea they’re suffering from this life-threatening condition.
Types of sleep apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). While the muscles of your body naturally relax during sleep, the muscles in the back of your throat relax as well. Your airway, which is made up of collapsible walls of soft tissue, can cause a breathing obstruction during sleep.
Central sleep apnea (CSA). This type of sleep disorder is caused by your brain’s respiratory control center to be imbalanced during sleep. As carbon dioxide levels increase in the blood stream, this mechanism in the brain ceases to respond quickly enough to maintain an even respiratory rate.
Symptoms of sleep apnea
Many people are unaware they suffer from sleep apnea. Diagnosing the disorder involves an evaluation of symptoms combined with a participation in an overnight sleep test. Some of the symptoms include:
- Breathing problems during sleep
- Extreme daytime fatigue
- Fighting falling asleep throughout the day
- Slowed reaction times
- Vison problems
- Morning headaches
- Memory or learning problems
- Not able to concentrate
- Feelings of irritability, depression or mood swings
- Dry mouth or sore throat upon waking
- Serious health issues, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, weight gainAsses your risk of sleep apnea
There are many risk factors for sleep apnea – how much of the list below describes you?
- Family members who’ve suffered from sleep apnea
- Over the age of 65
- Deviated septum
- Enlarged tonsils or adenoids
- Allergies or other medical conditions that lead to nasal congestion or blockage
Prevention of sleep apnea
Sleep apnea can be scary when considering the symptoms and risk factors, but often a few lifestyle tweaks can reduce your risk – and potentially lengthen your life.
- Exercise regularly
- Quit smoking
- Avoid alcohol, sleeping pills and sedatives before bed
- Stay away from caffeine and unhealthy foods before bed
- Maintain regular sleep hours
- Sleep on your side
- Prop your head up while sleeping
- Open nasal passages with saline spray, breathing strips or a neti-pot
Sleep apnea is a very serious health and sleep condition that can be regulated (and potentially eliminated) with the support of a medical professional. If you feel you’re at risk for sleep apnea or believe you are presenting symptoms your first step should be a consult with your doctor.
If you’re interested in learning more about sleep apnea, these resources will help:
Rest well & wake up ready to go!
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