What Is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder characterized by pauses in breathing or shallow breathing, caused by a blockage in the airway.
These blockages occur when tissues in the airway relax excessively or collapse, cutting off the airway. As you try to take a breath this obstruction prevents air from reaching your lungs, causing choking and low oxygen levels.
Pauses in breathing (apnea) can occur 5 times per hour in mild cases and 50 to 100 times per hour in severe cases. These pauses repeatedly interrupt your sleep and respiration, causing poor sleep quality and contributing to daytime sleepiness and fatigue.
- 5-10% of Adults in the US Have Sleep Apena
- Pauses In Breathing Interrupt Sleep and Cause Dangerously Low Oxygen Levels
- Sleep Apnea Sufferers Will Often Sleep Through the Night Unaware of Breathing Pauses
- Sleep Apnea Is the Leading Cause of Excessive Daytime Sleepiness
- Loud Snoring Can Be a Sign of Sleep Apnea
- There Are Multiple Treatment Options for Sleep Apnea
Top 5 Risks of Sleep Apnea
1. Excessive Daytime Sleepiness
Sleep apnea prevents you from getting a good night’s sleep. Although you may sleep all night, the quality of sleep is very poor, leading to daytime sleepiness and general fatigue.
2. Impaired Memory and Cognition
Sleep apnea can minimize the amount of time spent in restorative sleep. It also causes drops in oxygen levels ,resulting in poor oxygenated blood flow to the brain. This can cause neurocognitive deficits such as memory loss, inability to concentrate and generalized mental dullness.
3. Hypertension, Heart Attack and Stroke
Severe sleep apnea has been directly linked to hypertension, stroke, heart disease, diabetes and other high risk medical conditions.
4. Weight Gain
Sleep apnea can affect the body’s metabolism and cause weight gain. Sleep apnea can also cause increased fatigue and contribute to depression, making exercise and active weight loss even more difficult.
Sleep apnea is often associated with severe snoring, resulting in discomfort and poor sleep for a bed partner or embarrassing situations when traveling or sleeping outside of the home.
5 Benefits of Treating Sleep Apnea
1. Increased Energy and Libido
Patients who receive effective therapy report significant increases in their energy levels. Patients are often able to exercise more aggressively, resulting in weight loss and resolution of other sleep apnea symptoms.
2. Increased Productivity
Increased ability to focus and concentrate allows for more productivity, enhancing job performance and personal relationships.
3. Better Management of Disease
Treatment of sleep apnea can significantly reduce the impact of high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and some neurocognitive deficits.
4. Share a Bed With Your Partner Again
Many couples report sleeping in separate rooms due to the disturbance of sleep apnea and snoring. With effective therapy, you will sleep together again.
5. A Better Nights Sleep
Your sleep will be sound and restorative with effective therapy. You will wake up feeling refreshed and have energy throughout the day.
Other Sleep Disorders
Although obstructive sleep apnea is the most common sleep disorder there are many other sleep disorders that can be diagnosed at Sunset Sleep Disorders Centers.
Central Sleep Apnea
Central sleep apnea is caused when the brain does not send the signal to breathe resulting in pauses in breathing and drops in oxygen levels. Central sleep apnea requires specialized treatment and the professionals at Sunset Sleep are experts in diagnosing and treating all form of apnea.
Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)
People who have RLS describe it in many different ways ,but most describe a “crawling” or “tingling” sensation that occurs in the legs when they are trying to sleep. RLS most often occurs in the calves of the legs and most people say it is temporarily relieved by stretching or moving the legs
Narcolepsy is usually described as excessive daytime sleepiness. It can begin at any age and continues through life. It is believed that there is a hereditary predisposition. The main symptoms include “sleep attacks” that can occur without warning and cataplexy, which is the sudden loss of voluntary muscle control.
Insomnia is characterized by difficulty falling asleep, waking frequently during the night, waking too early in the morning and not being able to get back to sleep. Insomnia can be transient (lasting for several days), intermittent (when transient insomnia recurs), or chronic (lasting for more than a month).
REM Behavior Disorder (RBD)
RBD is characterized by a blockage of REM sleep paralysis and the person is allowed to act out dramatic and/or violent dreams. RBD is most common in men over 60 years of age. Other features may include shouting or grunting. Unlike sleepwalking or PLMS, RBD occurs during REM sleep.
Periodic Limb Movements (PLMS)
Periodic limb movements in sleep are repetitive movements, typically in the lower limbs, that occur about every 20-40 seconds. You may recognize these movements as brief muscle twitches, jerking movements or an upward flexing of the feet. They cluster into episodes lasting anywhere from a few minutes to several hours.