We are examining sleep and its role in our overall health and wellbeing. There are individuals that suffer from sleeping disorders, not just insomnia, that affects the quality of their sleep. As our last post examined, during sleep our bodies repair and resets itself. Interrupting that process, due to poor sleep, causes consequences the next day and to your overall health.
Do you or your partner snore?
“The one who snores will fall asleep first.” Proverb
You cannot hear yourself snore. Thus, it is no surprise that most people learn that they snore from upset partner’s or family who experienced interrupted sleeping because of your loud snoring. Snoring may be the first sign of a serious sleeping disorder called sleep apnea. Anyone who snores should discuss the problem with their medical doctor for an evaluation.
What is sleep apnea?
The American Sleep Apnea Association, defines sleep apnea as “an involuntary cessation of breathing that occurs while the patient is asleep.” “Apnea” is a Greek word that means “without breath.”
According to WebMd, common symptoms of sleep apnea include:
- Waking up with a very sore or dry throat.
- Loud snoring.
- Occasionally waking up with a choking or gasping sensation.
- Sleepiness or lack of energy during the day.
- Sleepiness while driving.
- Morning headaches.
- Restless sleep.
- Forgetfulness, mood changes, and a decreased interest in sex.
Of these symptoms, the easiest to identify is loud snoring. Not because you know of it but because your partner or family members tell you. Individuals that suffer from sleep apnea stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep for a minute or longer hundreds of times during the night. Very often the individual has no knowledge that they suffer from sleep apnea because they do not fully wake-up when their breathing stops. Untreated sleep apnea tends to cause other serious health ailments: high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, depression, and obesity.
There are three kinds of sleep apnea according to the American Sleep Apnea Association:
- Obstructive sleep apnea is caused by a blockage of the airway, usually when the soft tissue in the rear of the throat collapses and closes during sleep.
- In central sleep apnea, the airway is not blocked but the brain fails to signal the muscles to breathe.
- Mixed sleep apnea, as the name implies, is a combination of the two.
Regardless of the type of sleep apnea, with each apnea event, the brain rouses the sleeper, usually only partially, to signal breathing to resume. As a result, your sleep is extremely fragmented and of poor quality.
Seek an evaluation from your medical provider if you are experiencing any of these symptoms. It will change the quality of your life.