If you’ve committed to eating right, exercising, and cutting out caffeine, and you’re still not getting a good night’s sleep, the problem might be something you can’t control. Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that affects close to 1 in 5 Americans. Worldwide, the disorder affects about 9 percent of women and 24 percent of men. The tricky part is, you could be one of those people and not even know you have it. Sleep apnea occurs when something gets in the way of your breathing during a deep sleep, cutting off your brain’s supply of oxygen long enough to cause sleep disruption. The condition could disguise itself as loud snoring or frequent periods of waking during the night. However, if gone untreated, it can lead to serious consequences. To learn a bit more about sleep apnea and who it affects, read on:
You Could Have It Without Knowing It
If you wake up feeling fatigued in the morning, even though you know you’ve slept your full eight hours, sleep apnea could be to blame. By constricting the passage of air through the night, sleep apnea causes your period of rest to be lighter and punctuated by periods of waking or struggle. This is a huge obstacle for REM or reparative sleep, which requires a longer period of deep sleep in order to work. The symptoms of sleep apnea might even be more subtle, like waking with a sore throat or feeling irritable in the mornings.
It Could Be Genetic
There are many risk factors for sleep apnea, including genetics, gender, race, and age. However, the most at-risk group for this disorder is made up of clinically overweight or obese individuals. In fact, when it comes to obese adults, sleep apnea is as common a side effect as type 2 diabetes. However, even individuals who aren’t overweight can experience sleep apnea, including extremely athletic individuals. While it can often have the effect of inducing a deeper night’s sleep, it can also lead to undue cardiovascular stress, which causes the heart to be even more vulnerable to periods of stressed or cut-off breathing during the night.
It’s Potentially Dangerous
If gone untreated, sleep apnea can have some serious consequences, including stroke, high blood pressure, and diabetes. And that’s not even taking into account the issues it creates by keeping the body from drifting into reparative sleep at night. Whether you think you have the milder obstructive sleep apnea, the more serious central sleep apnea, or complex sleep apnea, you should see a doctor right away.
It’s Totally Treatable
The good news is, sleep apnea can be kept under control through non-invasive treatment like CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) therapy, or through surgery. CPAP requires a mask that covers your nose and mouth area and facilitates airflow through the night for a deeper, uninterrupted night’s sleep.
Sleep Apnea Could Be Preventing You From a Good Night’s Sleep
When our bodies don’t get enough sleep, they can signal this in many different ways. Sometimes, the stress from a lack of sleep can feel like your average morning drowsiness or fatigue that lasts through the day. Other times, it can manifest as depression and overall sluggishness. For people who are trying their best to get a good night’s sleep, it can feel frustrating to keep waking up feeling under-rested and irritable. That’s why going to your doctor and taking a simple test is crucial if you suspect you have sleep apnea. After you’re positively diagnosed, you can start taking steps to regain your health, happiness, and get a great night’s rest every night.