BLOG 143 SLEEP APNEA
Sleep is part of each cycle in our day. We are sensitive to how much sleep we get and are aware of the bare minimum to make it through the day. Sometimes this nightly routine is not easy and sometimes it’s amazing. However, sleep apnea is a common but very serious sleep disorder among more folks. So let’s take a closer look at this condition.
Definitions are always a good start. Thus, “Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that occurs when a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep. People with untreated sleep apnea stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, sometimes hundreds of times. This means the brain — and the rest of the body — may not get enough oxygen” (https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#inbox). There are 2 types of this. Obstructive sleep apnea (OPA) is the more common type in which the airway is blocked and the throat collapses. Central sleep apnea is when the brain isn’t signaling the body to breathe. Communication is ineffective with the respiratory system.
Here are the common risk factors for sleep apnea:
• Being male
• Being overweight
• Being over age 40
• Having a large neck size (17 inches or greater in men and 16 inches or greater in women)
• Having large tonsils, a large tongue, or a small jaw bone
• Having a family history of sleep apnea
• Gastroesophageal reflux, or GERD
• Nasal obstruction due to a deviated septum, allergies, or sinus problems
And here are the health risks if left untreated:
• High blood pressure
• Heart failure, irregular heartbeats, and heart attacks
• Worsening of ADHD
If you have any of these symptoms, go see your doctor. From there, they might have you to do a sleep study to monitor your eye movement, heart rate, breathing, choking, and/or snoring. This may result in the following: “The treatment of choice for obstructive sleep apnea is continuous positive airway pressure device (CPAP). CPAP is a mask that fits over the nose and/or mouth, and gently blows air into the airway to help keep it open during sleep. This method of treatment is highly effective” (https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-disorders-problems/sleep-apnea-treatment). And then, “Other methods of treating sleep apnea include: dental appliances which reposition the lower jaw and tongue; upper airway surgery to remove tissue in the airway; nasal expiratory positive airway pressure where a disposable valve covers the nostrils; and treatment using hypoglossal nerve stimulation where a stimulator is implanted in the patient’s chest with leads connected to the hypoglossal nerve that controls tongue movement as well as to a breathing sensor” (https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-disorders-problems/sleep-apnea-treatment). Other lifestyle changes like losing weight and cutting out alcohol and smoking can help.
It’s hard to argue that lack of sleep is not fun. Sadly, many of us are used to this with life’s demands. However, serious cases when sleep deprivation is continuous need to be addressed. We want our mind and body to be operating as best as possible on our fitness journeys so be sure to get those zzzzzz’s.