SLEEP DISORDERS: SLEEP APNEA
Sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea, can severely impact your life, especially if you aren’t aware that you have one. With many individuals left undiagnosed, it’s difficult to get the proper treatment needed to alleviate symptoms. Sleep apnea is one of the most common sleep disorders, so we’ve broken down what it is, who may be at risk, how to get your diagnosis, and how you can treat it.
WHAT IS SLEEP APNEA?
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder where breathing is reduced or completely stopped many times throughout the night. There are two basic types of sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea, which is the most common type, is caused by a blockage of the airway. The other type, central sleep apnea, occurs when your brain fails to signal to the rest of your body that it’s time to breathe. You can also have a mixed variation of the two types.
People at risk of sleep apnea are typically overweight, above the age of 40, and more often male than female. However, there are many other factors that can contribute outside of those parameters, such as your family history.
Left undiagnosed and untreated, sleep apnea can lead to larger health problems down the road, including heart attack, stroke, and even diabetes. It’s crucial to take the right steps if you think there may be even a slight chance that you’re affected. After all, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
DO I HAVE SLEEP APNEA?
There are common signs to spot when it comes to sleep apnea. This includes snoring, waking up abruptly gasping for air, reduced or stopped breathing, as well as excessive sleepiness. Often, it’s a partner or family member that will be the first to detect and suggest a problem, as it can be difficult to be aware of your own sleep patterns. It’s important to note that these signs are not always indicative of sleep apnea, especially when it comes to snoring.
So how can you be sure that you have sleep apnea? The answer is simple. Book an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible. They will likely suggest a sleep apnea test, also called a polysomnogram. You’ll be monitored overnight to assess how many episodes of slowed or stopped breathing you experience each hour. The doctor will then be able to provide you with a diagnosis for sleep apnea, another sleep disorder, or they may suggest additional testing if more information is required.
Polysomnograms are painless, overnight sleep studies. It’s one of the best way to diagnose and treat patients who have trouble with their sleep. Be sure to ask your doctor for the test if you feel uneasy about whether or not you have a sleep disorder.
HOW CAN I TREAT SLEEP APNEA?
Have you been diagnosed with sleep apnea, and now you’re unsure of what to do? There are many methods of alleviating symptoms, from natural lifestyle changes to specially designed products. Conscious choices you can make daily would be avoiding alcohol, cigarettes, and sleeping pills. Moreover, when you do get to bed, try positions that will promote improved breathing. Avoid sleeping on your back, as it can contribute to blocking your airway. Another solution is to incorporate more exercise and a healthier diet into your life in order to lose excessive weight if that’s a factor in your diagnosis.
Some sleep products that may assist you in feeling more well-rested when you have sleep apnea include elevation wedges and adjustable beds. They’re useful because they allow you to keep your upper body elevated, helping to keep your airway open. While it’s not a cure, you will likely find an improvement in your sleep quality.
Aside from that, you can look into a continuous positive airway pressure machine, also referred to as a CPAP machine. It’s one of the most common ways to treat sleep apnea and an excellent choice if you’re finding natural solutions are not helping enough. The machine delivers air through a mask that’s worn over the nose and mouth. This allows for regular breathing overnight.
In extreme cases, surgery may be recommended by your doctor. This includes surgery to increase the width of your airway, to remove throat obstructions, or to correct nasal issues, such as a deviated septum. However, natural solutions paired with a CPAP machine are typically enough to provide treatment.
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Whether you think you have sleep apnea, have been diagnosed, or simply wanted to know more, it’s always good to be aware of the signs and available remedies for various sleep disorders. Something that may seem like a simple nuisance, such as snoring, can actually be indicative of a more serious issue that can lead to long-term health issues if left untreated.
Make sure to pay a visit to the doctor if any of the above information resonated with you. You can also contact one of our sleep experts if you’re interested in learning more about what products we recommend for sleep apnea, or take our Sleep Quiz today.