Better Sleep 101

Sleep Apnea: What Is It and How To Cure It?

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a disorder that involves the temporary stopping of breathing at intervals of at least 10 seconds during sleep.

It usually affects men aged between 40 and 70 years old.

It also commonly occurs in elderly individuals and those suffering from obesity.

In general, this sleep disorder can be divided into three categories:

     • Obstructive apnea: This involves real airway obstruction.
     • Central apnea: In this case, the malfunctioning of the respiratory activity is due to a temporary loss of the nervous stimulus on the way to the respiratory muscles.
     • Mixed apnea: This last type is simply a mix of the two previous types of apnea.

Symptoms and effects of sleep apnea

Usually, the most common symptom of sleep apnea is snoring. In fact, due to the dysfunction of the breath, this becomes stronger. For example, prolonged breathing pauses, groans, and puffs are observed in sleepers who suffer from sleep apnea.

The causes of sleep apnea can vary, but aggravating factors include the following:

     •  use of sedatives,
     •  hypothyroidism,
     •  nasal obstruction,
     •  or the supine position during sleep.

The effects of sleep include difficulty falling asleep at night, excessive tiredness during the day, frequent headaches and concentration problems.

Medical treatment and advice

For a treatment to be considered, sleep apnea must occur at least five times per hour and must last at least ten seconds. In this case, you must visit your doctor as soon as possible.

Usually, polysomnography is prescribed, where your sleep is monitored and a sleep expert will give you their diagnosis.

However, there are a number of lifestyle changes one could undertake to reduce the risk and/or severity of sleep apnea:
     •  In the case of overweight people, it is advisable to lose weight
     •  Avoid prolonged stops in the supine position
     •  Stop smoking or reduce as much as possible
     •  Avoid alcohol and sedatives before going to bed

Sleep apnea is a potentially serious disorder that can have some adverse effects on your health. It is important to seek medical attention from your doctor if you have any of these symptoms.
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