Sleep apnea seems to be a common topic of conversation nowadays. People quickly relate it to heavy snoring and a lot of times it simply gets overlooked as not such a serious condition. However, you might be unaware that you are actually experiencing this phenomenon.
Sleep apnea is a condition that affects breathing while sleeping. It might cause people to stop breathing during their sleep and leads to interrupted sleep. This means that the brain needs to wake up the body to resume breathing. There are two types of sleep apnea, the more common one is obstructive sleep apnea which is caused by a blockage in the airway when soft tissue collapses during sleep.
The other type is central sleep apnea, in this one there isn’t an airway blockage, but there is a problem with the brain signaling the muscles to breathe. It all comes down to lack of sleep and lower quality of life. To help you understand sleep apnea, we will clarify the myths and facts surrounding this condition.
Myth #1: Sleep Apnea Isn’t Treatable, You Just Have to Get Used to It
Sleep apnea is absolutely treatable. But first, you need to recognize whether you suffer from it. The symptoms to look for are waking up with a headache, or daytime fatigue and drowsiness. If you sleep alone, ask someone to monitor you during your sleep and let you know if you wake up after a period of constricted airflow.
Myth #2: If There is No Snoring at Night, You Don’t Have Sleep Apnea
Although snoring is a common symptom for people who have apnea, there is a chance you suffer from it even without the snoring part. Obstructive sleep apnea is caused by the relaxation of the muscles in the back of your throat, and this is what obstructs the breathing. These muscles are responsible for the structure of your soft palate, the uvula (the thing which hangs in the back of your throat), your tonsils, and your tongue.
And when the above-mentioned muscles overly relax, these structures start growing soft and might cause an obstruction in the airway. The snoring part is a side-effect of these muscles and structures softening situation. However, if you don’t snore, it isn’t implied that you definitely don’t have sleep apnea. This is due to our inability to recognize whether we’ve slept through the whole night or we’ve been waking up a lot of times being unaware of it.
Myth #3: Only Overweight People Have Sleep Apnea
No matter your weight, all people can experience sleep apnea. It is true though, that around half the people with obstructive sleep apnea are overweight, but, according to Mayo Clinic: “Thin people can develop the disorder, too.” That is why a healthy diet and exercise is the safest lifestyle for everyone.
When it comes to the facts concerning sleep apnea, here are the most important ones.
Fact #1: Obstructive Sleep Apnea Can Actually be Life-Threatening If Left Untreated
If you don’t tend to OSA, it can lead to irregular heartbeat, blood pressure issues, even stroke and heart attack. Sleep apnea affects the quality of life in every way possible and increases the risk of developing depression.
Fact #2: OSA Affects More Men Than Women, and Is Common in Children
OSA is most common among middle-aged men. However, it may rarely affect women, but only after they reach menopause. When it comes to children, 1 in 10 children experiences some form of sleep apnea, but generally, they outgrow this disorder without suffering serious symptoms.
Fact #3: The Biggest Issue with OSA is That it Often Goes Undiagnosed
Most of us consider going to sleep and falling asleep fast equals a good night’s sleep. Anyway, things are a bit more complicated than that. Even people who fall asleep the second they hit the pillow, might have sleep apnea. If you want to be sure that you aren’t dealing with OSA without knowing it, monitor your sleep by keeping a diary to record how many times you wake up during the night.
If you do have this disorder, there are treatment options. You can wear a continuous positive airflow pressure mask. You can quit smoking and alcohol and try to live healthier in general. But the most crucial thing is to sleep in a room that you only use for sleeping and nothing else. Also, the room temperature must be comfortable and no electronic devices are allowed in it. If you want to minimize the OSA issues, this room must remind you of sleep, and sleep only.