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“The shorter your sleep, the shorter your life.” is a quote from sleep expert and neuroscientist, Matthew Walker. Getting a good night’s sleep is vital for people of all ages, and while needs may vary, adults should be getting seven to nine hours a night for good health.

Sleep deprivation can have serious consequences on your health and well being:

– Interferes with short-term memory.
– Impairs long-term memory in the elderly, including signs of Alzheimer’s.
– Causes irritability.
– Increases tunnel vision, double vision, and potentially, hallucinations.
– Slows reaction time, which can negatively impact athletes or those who need good reflexes in their profession.
– Impairs the immune system: increases risk for infection and colds, and lowers the effectiveness of recent vaccines.
– Increases sexual dysfunction and lessens your libido (especially with sleep apnea).
– Decreases happiness and increases the risk for depression.
– Like drinking, it can interfere with speech.
– Impairs driving ability.
– Increases pain sensitivity.
– Interferes with muscle building and muscle healing.
– Slows skin healing and accelerates skin aging.
– Increases your susceptibility to gastrointestinal problems like inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome.
– Higher risk for headaches, including migraines.
– Elevates blood pressure and heart rate, increasing the concentration of C-reactive protein leading to heart disease.
– Increases inflammation which can aggravate heart disease, asthma, and arthritis.
– Sleep apnea strains the heart and increases weight gain.
– Increases insulin resistance and risk of Type 2 diabetes.
– Increases your risk of certain cancers such as colon and breast cancer.
– Increases risk of death.

Risk Factors for Sleep Apnea

While sleep apnea is more likely to develop with age, it can arise at any time and the symptoms can vary. Children with sleep apnea may have problems with bedwetting, hyperactivity, exacerbated asthma, teeth grinding, difficulty learning and as a result, a decreased performance in school. Whereas sleep apnea in women manifests with increased headache, depression and anxiety, insomnia, memory loss and fatigue. Interestingly, while men develop sleep apnea more often than women during the young adult years, this tends to level out and lessen with age.

If age is a factor, it may be because of built-up fatty tissue in the neck and tongue. Lifestyle habits such as smoking, alcohol consumption, and being overweight can put you at higher risk for developing this condition. When you regularly drink alcohol, the muscles in your mouth and throat relax, which can result in a closing of the upper airways. Not to mention that alcohol also impacts the brain’s ability to control the breathing muscles in your sleep. When you regularly smoke, this can inflame the upper airway which impacts breathing. And similarly with drinking, it can impact the brain’s ability to control sleep and breathe. If you are not a healthy eater, combined with a sedentary lifestyle, you may gain weight which impacts your body’s breathing ability and results in sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea can also be inherited. There are genes connected with sleep apnea that have to do with the structural development of the face and skull which determines how the brain controls sleep and breathing while you sleep. There are also genes that are connected to obesity and inflammation in the body. Even so, you can lower your risk of sleep apnea by adhering to a healthy, active lifestyle to keep your weight at a healthier level and tilt the scale in your favor.

You might be experiencing the effects of sleep apnea if you have the following:

– Waking up gasping or choking for air
– Snoring loudly enough to wake the dead (or at least, your partner)
– Regularly stop breathing during the night
– Overly tired during the day
– Diminished capacity for concentration, attention, memory, and have trouble functioning.
– Wake up with headaches or dry mouth, or a sore throat.
– Diminished libido.
– Getting up frequently in the night to use the bathroom.

We are happy to meet with you to help you address your sleep apnea problems. Please give us a call and let our dedicated team help you get the good night’s sleep your mind and body needs!