If you find yourself not able to sleep well or feel unrested when you wake up and you do not have existing conditions like back injuries or arthritis then you may have a condition called Sleep Apnea. this is a very serious condition which contributed to my own fathers death at the young age of 57 years. I seriously urge you to speak to your family physician about it and ask about scheduling a sleep study to see if you have it.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that occurs when a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep. People with sleep apnea stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, sometimes hundreds of times. This means the brain and the rest of the body may not get enough oxygen.
There are two types of sleep apnea:
- Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA): The more common of the two forms of apnea, it is caused by a blockage of the airway, when the soft tissue in the back of the throat collapses during sleep.
- Central sleep apnea: Unlike OSA, the airway is not blocked, but the brain fails to signal the muscles to breathe, due to instability in the respiratory control center.
Sleep apnea can affect anyone at any age, even children. Risk factors for sleep apnea include:
- Being male
- Being overweight
- Being over age 40
- A large neck size (17 inches or greater in men and 16 inches or greater in women)
- large tonsils, a large tongue, or a small jaw bone
- family history of sleep apnea
- Nasal obstruction
Effects of Sleep Apnea
If left untreated, sleep apnea can result in a growing number of health problems, including:
- High blood pressure
- Heart failure, irregular heart beats, and heart attacks
- Waking up with a very sore or dry throat
- Loud snoring
- Occasionally waking up with a choking or gasping sensation
- Sleepiness or lack of energy during the day
- Sleepiness while driving
- Morning headaches
- Restless sleep
- Forgetful, mood changes, and a decreased interest in sex
- Frequent awakenings or insomnia
- Weight Loss
- Avoiding alcohol and sleeping pills.
- Changing sleep positions to improve breathing.
- Stopping smoking.
- Avoiding sleeping on your back.
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)
Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is a treatment in which a mask is worn over the nose and/or mouth while you sleep. The mask is hooked up to a machine that delivers a continuous flow of air into the nose. This air flow helps keep the airways open so that breathing is regular. CPAP is the most common treatment for sleep apnea. There’s also bi-level positive airway pressure.