Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder wherein a person stops breathing. This results in snoring, gasping for air, or waking up many times per night to as the body reacts to not getting enough oxygen.
The disorder can be mild, moderate, or severe. But even with mild sleep apnea, your body is jolting you awake at regular intervals, so what little sleep you do manage to get is not quality sleep and not restful.
CAUSES OF SLEEP APNEA
Three kinds of sleep apnea are recognized, but the most common is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). OSA is caused by a collapse of the airway while asleep, halting breathing. These breathing pauses can last anywhere from seconds to longer than a minute. When the brain registers a lack of oxygen, it sends the body a shock signal to wake it up so that you can resume breathing.
There are several reasons an airway closes. The most common is an abundance of fatty tissue in the neck. The weight of this tissue applies pressure to the throat muscles, which, when relaxed during sleep, can partially or completely block the airway. Extra tissue in the back of the throat can also be present in patients with a large tongue, tonsils, or adenoids, which is common with children. Aging and the weakening of the muscles is another reason these throat muscles become loose and collapse during sleep.
These breathing pauses and subsequent jolts back to breathing disrupt your deep sleep patterns, leaving you feeling fatigued and exhausted during the day, no matter how early you might get to sleep.
SLEEP APNEA IS A THIEF
Sleep interruption and shortness of breath can take a serious toll on the body. Think about how your body would respond if you ran straight up a hill or a few flights of stairs. Most people would feel tired, hunched over trying to catch their breath as their heart beats fast to compensate for their organs needing more oxygen. That’s how your body responds to each apnea episode. Sleep apnea is like running up a hill all night long; your body never gets an opportunity to fully rest, which means it is robbed of the precious time it needs to repair itself.
The consequences of untreated sleep apnea have also been linked to dozens of other diseases, including high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, depression, anxiety, moodiness, fatigue and an increased risk of stroke and heart attack. Treat sleep apnea and you help treat these issues too.
If you or people you love have the symptoms of sleep apnea, don’t waste any time. Call us today for a consultation. It’s never too early (or late) to get you a proper night’s sleep.