Some people simply don’t sleep well, perhaps tossing and turning until the alarm clock goes off in the morning. If you are consistently having trouble sleeping throughout the night, it’s important to be tested for sleep apnea. Sleep disruption can be quite serious, here's why.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that causes a blockage in the airway due to the collapse of the tongue and soft palate while the person is asleep. Multiple times (dozens, even hundreds) throughout the night, the sufferer may momentarily stop breathing and gasp for air, waking them up in a panic. This prevents the important REM sleep we all require. Not surprisingly, this nighttime intrusion can pose danger and can lead to a variety of complications if not treated. Health issues including heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, depression, liver damage, fibromyalgia, and other problems have been linked to sleep apnea.
What Are Some Of The Signs Of Sleep Apnea I Should Look Out For?
While not every sufferer will experience all of the below signs, these are the most common:
- Extreme daytime drowsiness; falling asleep during the day
- Lethargy/low energy
- Heavy breathing
- Awaking with a dry or sore throat
- Unexplained weight gain
Am I At Risk For Sleep Apnea?
Those at the highest risk for sleep apnea fall into the following categories:
- Men over age 40
- A family history of sleep apnea
- Being overweight/obese
- Use of alcohol/tobacco
- Use of sedatives/tranquilizers
How Is Sleep Apnea Treated?
Some patients with the most severe cases of sleep apnea may be hooked up to a CPAP machine during the night. This device keeps the airway unobstructed leading to a safer night’s sleep. Others may be fitted with an oral guard that positions the mouth in such a way so that the tongue and soft palate won’t collapse and block breathing throughout the night.
If you are concerned that you may be affected by sleep apnea, please alert us to the matter during your next appointment. We’ll get to the bottom of it and provide a solution to help you sleep more soundly and safer.