If you you tend to wake up exhausted no matter how long you sleep, and then go through the day drowsy and tired…
You may be suffering from a pretty common sleep disorder called Sleep Apnea.
Don’t be surprised if you’ve never heard of it, because while around 10% of adults have Sleep Apnea, most will spend their entire life unaware of it.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Apnea (greek) = to stop breathing. (the British spell it Apneoa)
While asleep, people with Sleep Apnea actually stop breathing for 10-20 seconds, dozens and sometimes up to hundreds of times per night.
Beside the damage to the quality of sleep, Sleep Apnea is considered a life-threatening sleep disorder, because over time the pauses in oxygen supply to the brain may bring to high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke.
There are two main kinds of sleep apnea – “obstructive” and “central”, and when a person suffers from a combination of both it’s called Complex Sleep Apnea.
Central Sleep Apnea is quite rare and is usually caused by some serious illness, such as a heart disease, stroke or a spinal injury. What happens is that the brain “forgets” to tell the body to breath from time to time (during sleep).
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is the most common type, where breathing is interrupted by a blockage in the airway.
Here’s a short video that explains very clearly how OSA “works”:
(If you can’t see the video, please try refreshing the page)
What Causes Obstructive Sleep Apnea
OSA is caused mainly by physical attributes, such as the shape of your throat and jaw, the size of your tonsils and tongue etc.
With that said, there are other factors that can play a part in causing it or at least making it worse…
Quite simply, anything that will put pressure on your airways or narrow them, such as allergies and nasal congestion, smoking and also – being overweight.
Signs and Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
- During sleep – loud snoring and sometimes sounds of choking or gasping, restless sleep, often with several trips to the bathroom, and excessive sweating.
- Upon rising – dry mouth, sore throat or morning headaches.
- During the day – naturally, the symptoms can be similar to those of sleep deprivation – drowsiness, forgetfulness, trouble focusing, moodiness and even depression.
“Is it Sleep Apnea of Just Snoring?”
Sleep Apnea is not “snoring”. Although loud snoring is a known symptom of Sleep Apnea, not everybody who snores has the disorder.
If beside your partner’s complaints about your snoring, you have no other symptoms, there’s a good chance that you don’t have apnea.
With that said, you shouldn’t take snoring lightly, because not only that snoring can damage your sleep by itself, it can easily develop into apnea.
(Find out how to stop snoring)
Diagnosing and Treating OSA
If you suspect that you suffer from OSA you should tell your doctor. He might get you on a sleep study (Polysomnography), which can be done either in a sleep lab or at home (with special portable devices).
The sleep study will help the sleep doctor decide on the right treatment for you – usually either an oral appliance (mouthpiece), an air mask, known as CPAP (Continuous Positive Air Pressure), or in severe cases – surgery.
(To learn more about the possible treatment for OSA, you may want to visit the American Sleep Apnea Association site)
The first time I found out about Sleep Apnea was after hours or research, trying to figure out the reason for my excessive night sweats.
It turned out that my Sleep Apnea is ‘mild’, and therefore I’m able to deal with it the same way you’d deal with simple snoring.
(Find out how I cured my snoring and night sweating)