Snoring might not strike you as a serious health issue but if it is causing you to feel exhausted during the day, even when you just woke up, it might be a symptom of sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder wherein you constantly stop and start breathing while you sleep.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a common sleep condition that should be taken seriously. It happens when you are asleep, you will constantly stop and start breathing and this interrupts your sleep and as a result, you will feel tired or fatigued when you wake up, you will also experience extreme mood changes and you will just be generally feeling unproductive during the day. You won’t feel any pain in other areas of your body.
There are three types of sleep apnea. The most common is obstructive sleep apnea and this occurs when your airway is blocked as you sleep. This blocked airway causes loud snoring and you will repeatedly stop and start breathing throughout the night. The main cause of this particular health problem is the soft tissue in the back of the throat. It relaxes too much and the airway is blocked as a result.
If you suffer from this, you will feel tired when you wake up and you might feel sleepy during the day due to the interruptions in your sleep. Due to lack of sleep, you will feel sluggish, will have slow reflexes and you will lack the focus needed to function in a normal way. This leads to increased risks of accidents, bad school or work performance, irritability and moodiness, low productivity and can even cause long term depression.
Central sleep apnea is another type of sleep apnea and it is not as common as the first one. This condition has something to do with the nervous system of our body where the brain is not giving the right signals to the muscles when it comes to breathing.
Complex sleep apnea is the last type and it is basically a combination of the two types of sleep apnea.
Symptoms to Look Out For
It is almost impossible to determine if you are suffering from sleep apnea if you sleep alone, unless, you decide to film yourself while you sleep. If you have a partner, it is infinitely easier as you can just ask him/her to observe you while you sleep and look for obvious signs such as gasping or choking after the stops in breathing.
As for other things to watch out for, here is a list.
- Loud snoring
- Stops and pauses in breathing while you sleep
- Frequent tiredness or fatigue during daytime
- Frequent irritability
- Brain Fog and forgetfulness
- Difficulty focusing and concentrating
What to do when you have Sleep Apnea?
When you think that you have sleep apnea, the first thing that you should do is consult with your doctor as this can be a serious condition that needs to be corrected as soon as you can.
Having said that, here are some things that you can do to prevent or at least improve your condition. These are lifestyle changes that aim to make you healthier so that you won’t have to deal with sleep apnea anymore.
One of the reasons for sleep apnea is the tissue at the back of your throat. If you are overweight, the tissue will most certainly be enlarged and this can make it harder for you to breathe while you sleep. Losing weight will have a positive effect as the tissue will decrease in size.
Avoid drinking alcohol or taking relaxants when you are about to sleep, also, quit smoking
These can contribute to sleep apnea by way of causing the tissue at the back of your throat to relax and consequently, block the airway. You can drink or take relaxants during the day or in the afternoon but avoid them when you are about to sleep.
As for smoking, it can cause inflammation in your throat area so quitting is recommended. Smoking is dangerous to your health so even if you don’t have sleep apnea, you should quit right away!
Treatment for Sleep Apnea
While prevention is the best approach, not everyone will be able to do it and if your sleep apnea ever becomes severe, you should always consult with a doctor. Upon consulting with a doctor, you will be presented with different treatment options and here they are.
CPAP and other breathing devices
CPAP or continuous positive airflow pressure machines are the go-to treatment option for a lot of people. These machines will help you breathe while you sleep by providing a constant stream of air.
CPAP devices have been improving at a fast rate and while they were once considered uncomfortable and intrusive while you sleep, the case is different now.
Surgery should be the last option but if you have no other choice, then you might want to consider it. The procedure that will be done will depend on a lot of factors. Some procedures include jaw alignment, removal of tonsils or extra tissue at the back of the throat or inside the nose and more.
Dental devices such as mouthguards, chinstraps and other oral devices can be very effective when your sleep apnea is not yet severe. Theses devices can help with your sleep apnea by opening the airway via repositioning the different parts of your head such as the tongue, jaw and your chin.