Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder that often deprives those who have it from receiving proper rest. It typically wakes an individual from their slumber due to a decrease in breathing or the complete cessation of it. The reduction or stoppage of breath only lasts for a short period of time (usually 10 seconds or more) but is enough to awaken the afflicted person from their sleeping state.
There are two types of sleep apnea:
- Central sleep apnea (CSA) – occurs due to the abnormal functioning of a mechanism in the brain that regulates breathing.
- Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) – the most common type caused by a blockage of the upper airway.
An individual may have either CSA or OSA or could even experience a combination of both types. Although the causes for each form of apnea may be different, both result in periodical reduced breathing and/or the complete cessation of breathing during sleep.
What are sleep apnea symptoms? Signs to watch for include, but may not be restricted to:
- Chronic snoring that is notably loud
- Snorting, choking or gasping while asleep
- Waking up with headaches, dry throat, stuffy nose, chest pains or shortness of breath
- Feeling very sleepy and exhausted in the daytime
- Difficulty remembering
- Low attention span and reduced concentration
- Poor work performance
- Easily irritable
There are different treatment options for sleep apnea and usually a combination of treatments is prescribed to provide relief and alleviate symptoms.
Common methods for sleep apnea treatment may include:
- Exercising and losing weight
- Sleeping on the side as opposed to the front or back
- Avoid eating and drinking stimulating or alcoholic beverages before bed
- Quitting smoking
- Good sleep hygiene
- Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) – a medical device that is not unlike a mask which provides a steady flow of air during sleep.
It is important for anyone who believes they may suffer from sleep apnea to be tested for this condition to receive a proper diagnosis. If left untreated, this disorder may not only disrupt sleep and cause insomnia, but may contribute to other health problems such as heart disease, congestive heart failure, high blood pressure and stroke. In extreme cases it can even be life threatening. Therefore, this medical condition needs to be taken very seriously and addressed as soon as possible.