Knowing basic facts about trouble sleeping can come in handy for sleep apnea. Probably the biggest obstacle to a good night’s sleep is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Did you know that sleep apnea often goes undiagnosed?
This sleep disorder leaves you struggling to sleep well, repeatedly pausing your breathing throughout your night from over-relaxation of the muscles at the back of your throat, causing collapsed tissue in the back of the throat. In fact, you might have OSA if you consistently snore loudly or gasp yourself awake constantly. And since around 30 million adults in our country have OSA, you are in good company. Here are some facts that could help you in your quest for a decent night’s sleep.
Sleep Apnea Facts You Need to Know
- The most common forms of sleep apnea are OSA and central sleep apnea (CSA). With OSA, your throat muscles relax too much, allowing the soft tissue to collapse and block your airflow. With CSA, your brain fails to signal your body’s breathing control system, so, in essence, you forget to breathe!
- Sleep apnea can affect anyone, including children (and even babies who succumb to CSA), but typically because of medical conditions like tonsils that are too big or from the adenoids blocking the airway while sleeping.
- Your risk of sleep apnea is greater as you age. If you are a woman, you are at higher risk after you reach menopause, with the most common symptoms manifesting as fatigue or insomnia.
- Undiagnosed (and therefore untreated) sleep apnea can seriously impact your overall health with severe conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, stroke and even depression.
But here’s some good news. Lifestyle changes can lower the severity of sleep apnea! One of the simplest ways to get healthier sleep is losing that extra weight. Staying away from alcohol or quitting a smoking habit can have a profound effect on sleep apnea symptoms. Even something as simple as sleeping on your side instead of your back can keep your airway open. Positional therapy is used to overcome sleep apnea by wearing a device that keeps you from turning over onto your back or using gentle vibration to signal your body to change positions while you sleep.
Risk Factors for Sleep Apnea
If you have any of the following, you may be at higher risk for sleep apnea:
- Your family has a history of people with sleep apnea
- You have a small upper airway
- You are overweight
- You have a recessed chin, small jaw, or a large overbite
- You have a big neck size (17+ inches as a male, 16 + inches as a female)
- You smoke, drink alcohol or take certain medications
- You are 40 years old or older
- You have diabetes or high blood pressure
Disability and Social Security
Did you know that sleep apnea is also considered a disability? It is officially classified as a disability under certain criteria, especially if it affects your mental, physical, and emotional health by obstructing your quality of life. It can also heighten stress levels if you continually experience the following:
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Heart problems
- Metabolic problems
- Relationship problems (keeping your SO awake with your snoring)
- Type 2 diabetes
As you can see, ignoring your signs of sleep apnea is not the best idea. It’s better to have a sleep study done to assess your sleep apnea symptoms and determine the most helpful treatment to get your mental, emotional and physical health back to optimal levels. You don’t need to live with the harmful effects of sleep apnea on your mind and body! Call our experienced team today to address your questions and concerns about sleep apnea!