What Is Sleep Apnea?

blankIt’s always great to end the day on a nice note. Imagine slipping into bed without a single worry, nothing ahead of you but sleep. Unfortunately, not everyone is capable of having a full, peaceful sleep at night. You’ve probably heard about insomnia, but what about sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea may not be extremely common compared to insomnia, but it’s a dangerous condition to have. According to studies, it’s been estimated that 26% of adults between the ages of 30-70 years old are suffering from sleep apnea. If you fall into this percentage, you could definitely benefit from visiting Sleeplay and checking out their devices.

Sleep Apnea is A Sleep Disorder

As you might’ve already guessed, it’s a night-time warrior.

Sleep apnea repeatedly stops and starts your breathing randomly while you’re asleep. It can be seriously dangerous, and shouldn’t be looked on lightly. If you’ve observed that you snore loudly and are still tired after a full night of sleep, you might be suffering from sleep apnea and just not be fully aware of it yet. You should consult with your doctor if you think you’re at risk, and get a proper diagnosis.

Types of Sleep Apnea

As unfortunate as it seems, there are three types of sleep apnea that you should be aware of.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

This is the most common type of sleep apnea, and occurs when your throat muscles are relaxed. It is caused by a partial or complete blockage of your airways. This is also the reason why you snore at night. The thing that’s causing the blockage is your tongue. As your throat muscles are relaxed during sleep, it’s allowing your tongue to fall back and block the airflow.

When you’re experiencing this obstructive sleep apnea, your brain will be receiving signals that it needs to wake up so that you can breathe properly. If you find yourself waking up immediately gasping, choking, or snorting, it’s probably because your tongue is getting in the way of your airways and your brain is letting you know.

It’s known that people who are overweight and obese are more likely to experience sleep apnea. Other factors can include age, enlarged tonsils or adenoids, frequent alcohol use, smoking or genetics.

If you’re suffering from this, you should use a tongue retaining mouthpiece and sleep on your side. If the symptoms are intense, you should consult with your doctor as to which treatment will work best.

Central Sleep Apnea

Central Sleep Apnea happens when your brain isn’t able to send proper signals to the muscles that control your breathing. Unlike obstructive sleep apnea which is more of a mechanical problem, central sleep apnea is a communication problem, which can be extremely dangerous when not taken care of.

Central Sleep Apnea is often caused by a medical problem and conditions that affects the brainstem. With this, it fails to send signals to your muscles to allow you to breathe properly as you sleep at night.

Symptoms of having this include irregular breathing while sleeping, waking up with shortness of breath, poor/restless sleep, headaches, excessive daytime drowsiness and chronic fatigue.

Causes of central sleep apnea include Parkinson’s disease, obesity, heart failure, medications like narcotic painkillers or medical conditions that result in affecting the way your brainstem works, including brain infection and stroke. Along with this, there has been a study stating that men are more likely to develop Central Sleep Apnea than women and it’s more common in adults, most especially when over 65. People who have had a brain tumor or stroke have a great chance of developing this as well.

If you suspect that you’re experiencing central sleep apnea, you can use an oxygen tracking device or take a pulse oximetry test that helps to track your oxygen level as you sleep at night. There are some wearables like a smartwatch which have this feature and allow you plenty of information on your night-time breathing habits. When you have complete data, provide it in a list to your doctor, and they should be able to give you a better diagnosis on what you’re experiencing; this will lead to treatments that could actually help you recover from it.

Mixed Sleep Apnea

This is also known as complex sleep apnea. As the name suggest, this condition combines both obstructive and central sleep apnea.

When a person has complex sleep apnea, they’ll have a ton of difficulty breathing at night. While their tongue is blocking their airways, their brain also fails to send a signal to the muscles that are responsible for breathing. When this frequently happens to a person, it could be life-threatening.

When you’re experiencing sleep apnea, you should consult with your doctor on ways to treat it so that you’ll be able to sleep comfortably at night.

Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

While we have mentioned a few symptoms of sleep apnea above, here are the most common ones that you should look out for:

  • Loud snoring
  • Gasping for air during sleep
  • Difficulty staying asleep
  • Episodes in your sleep wherein you stop breathing
  • Awakening with a dry mouth
  • Difficulty paying attention while awake

If you ever suspect that you’re experiencing sleep apnea, you should try remedies such as wearing a tongue retaining mouthpiece as you sleep, and trying to lay on your side rather than on your back.

Conclusion

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that you should never look past. It forces you to stop breathing for a few seconds. This can be caused by your tongue blocking the airways and not allowing you to breathe properly, or your brain failing to send signals to the muscles which facilitate and support respiration. Either way, it can be very uncomfortable, dangerous and even life-threatening.

If you think that you might have sleep apnea, you should consult with your doctor immediately and they’ll be able to provide you a with proper diagnosis, as well as treatments so that you can overcome this issue and have a good night’s sleep.