Sleep guide – understanding sleep apnea
Posted: Apr 24, 2019
Imagine waking up in the middle of the night with a startling breathlessness. Well, such is the case with sleep apnea. If you have experience with the condition or you suspect it, then this is a familiar feeling. It is a serious condition that interrupts breathing in a stop-start cycle while you sleep. Often, snoring is associated with sleep apnea. Your breathing is not the only thing affected. If you wake up tired and feeling unproductive even after sleeping through the whole night, then it might be time for a trip to the doctor.
Many of us take sleep associated conditions lightly, but they could potentially turn fatal. A good night’s rest is essential for proper functioning and any disruptions like those from sleep apnea, pose a serious threat to your regular operation.
Some major symptoms
There are several types of sleep apnea, the most common being Obstructive Sleep Apnea. As the name suggests, it is caused by the blockage of your airways. This obstruction causes snoring and halts breathing. The other two types; Central Sleep Apnea and Complex Sleep Apnea are not as common but are still as dangerous. The first is caused by failure to convey signals from the brain to your muscles while the latter is a combination of both Obstructive and Central Sleep Apnea.
Noticing the symptoms yourself may be difficult because they manifest mostly while you are asleep. You could record sessions of your sleep and watch out for the signs and symptoms, but that may be borderline creepy. An easier option is to ask your spouse, roommate or friend to check in on you while you sleep and observe any red flags. Letting someone watch you as you sleep sounds like the beginning of a horror film, but it’s for your own good.
What am I looking for?
Loud snoring that is accompanied by apnea episodes is the main thing your companion must check. These episodes are characterized by sudden instances when you cannot breathe. Determining the frequency of these episodes will help determine the severity of your condition. Other signs you may observe yourself are dry mouth, fatigue, concentration issues during the day, unexplainable mood swings and trouble with continuous-uninterrupted sleep.
Are you at risk?
Multiple factors put you at risk of having sleep apnea. Some of them maybe self-inflicted while others are innate. Here are some of the more common factors that increase your chances of developing this condition.
What's your gender? - Men are at a higher risk of developing sleep apnea than their female counterparts. This, however, does not completely remove women from the victims’ bracket. Statistically, menopausal and postmenopausal females have an increased risk of developing sleep apnea.
Family affair – like many other conditions, sleep apnea ‘is heritable.' If it runs in the family, then you stand a greater chance of developing it that someone who doesn't.
Poor lifestyle choices - smoking, drinking excessively, using a variety of drugs and even poor dieting and obesity put you at a great risk, not only for sleep apnea but for other lifestyle conditions as well.
Basic anatomy – depending on your neck circumference, nasal and jaw structure and presence or absence of anatomical deformities such as a deviated septum, your risk of developing sleep apnea will vary.
Fats: although this condition mostly affects adults, especially those over 50, it is not age restricted. Even children who possess some risk factors can be affected by sleep apnea.
Simple self-help tactics for sleep apnea
Consider some lifestyle changes
Behavioral changes may help reduce your at-risk percentage significantly or remedy an already existing condition. These changes may seem difficult at first, but with the right motivation and execution, you will barely even remember the condition exists. One of the major changes is cutting back on smoking, drinking and generally any drug intake. This will prevent over relaxation of your throat muscles and help reduce instances of obstruction of your airways. Losing weight and exercising regularly is another biggie. Exercise is meant to strengthen your muscles and assist your breathing. You may also eliminate the obesity risk factor with some weeks or months of weight loss exercise.
Sleep in a supportive environment
Establishing good sleeping behavior in a suitable environment is a great remedy for sleep apnea. These changes to your sleep habits must be accompanied by the subsequent change to your settings to accommodate your new needs. A good mattress, for example, will not only support your new sleeping position, but it will also ease some of the symptoms of sleep apnea such as snoring. Finding such a mattress might prove to be a bit of a hassle, but it is definitely worth it. Don't know where to start? How about you check out tuft and needle who offer a variety of quality options for all your different needs.
Sleep apnea tip: you may suspect you have sleep apnea, but the only way to be sure is by visiting a medical practitioner. This way you will have the correct diagnosis. A doctor will also provide more medical insight on your condition and determine if the degree of severity of your sleep apnea.
Based on the number of apnea episodes, they will establish from a scale of normal to sever how dire your condition is. You will then receive favorable treatments to supplement these home remedies.
Couples and sleep apnea
It might be embarrassing at first but informing you of your loud snoring and is actually an act of concern. Your partner is only concerned about their sleep and your health. If you receive complaints of this nature, it is best that you listen carefully to what the other party has observed and if it is concerning enough, plan a trip to the doctor's office. Conversely, you might feel afraid to approach your partner about their snoring or poor sleeping habits but keep in mind, yours and your partners' health is at risk. No good comes from keeping this information to yourself.
Sleep apnea is a potentially serious condition that affects multiple individuals. You might not realize you suffer from it because you have not witnessed first had apnea episodes. If you suspect you have sleep apnea or are at risk of developing it, you may want to adopt some of these remedies and plan a doctor's appointment to be sure. Even if you already live with this condition, these self-help strategies should help alleviate some of the symptoms naturally.
Rahul is a renowned author and social media enthusiast.