A good night of restful sleep is vitally important for optimum health, yet many folks struggle with either falling asleep or staying asleep. There are many factors that can affect the quality of sleep, but one of the biggest has always been problems with breathing during sleep. Let’s examine why these occur and what can be done to help reduce the chances of breathing issues when sleeping.
The relationship between snoring and sleep apnea
Most people don’t give snoring a second thought, and are generally more concerned with their bed partner’s snoring keeping them awake than they are with their own snoring episodes. However, loud and frequent snoring can be a symptom of other problems that you may not be aware of, such as sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is a pretty common sleep disorder, and many people don’t even realize they might be suffering from it. It can potentially be a dangerous condition and can contribute to all kinds of physical ailments, including high blood pressure and heart disease. To help treat it a medical professional may recommend a sleep apnea mouthpiece or a custom mouthguard for sleep apnea.
Obstructive sleep apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common form of this condition. During sleep, your breathing is interrupted because your air flow is cut off, causing you to have a pause in your breathing. When this occurs you will be awakened many times during the night, and you may not even realize it’s happening. Sometimes the pauses in breathing are enough to actually jolt you from a sound sleep.
Symptoms of sleep apnea
It’s sometimes hard to determine if your loud breathing during sleep is just typical snoring or if it really is sleep apnea. Some of the symptoms of sleep apnea include being excessively tired during the day, waking up with a dry mouth or a headache, and gasping, snorting or even choking during sleep. You may have to enlist the help of a bed partner in determining exactly what’s happening over the course of a night of sleep.
Some other signs that you may be suffering from sleep apnea include a lack of ability to concentrate on things at work, and also an impaired memory. If you find yourself nodding off while reading or watching TV, or when you come home from work in the afternoon, this could be another sign that you’re not getting the proper amount of sleep at night.
Another dangerous result of improper rest at night is drowsy driving. We all may have a tendency of feeling sleepy behind the wheel of the car from time to time, especially during a long, monotonous drive. But people suffering with sleep apnea may feel this way all the time, and studies have shown that drowsy driving actually is responsible for more accidents than driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Leading causes of sleep apnea
Remember that anyone can develop sleep apnea, but there are some factors that can contribute to this condition. Age can play a role, and if you’re over 65 you may have a better chance of developing sleep apnea. Additionally, if you are overweight or male, this will also increase your odds. Even being related to someone who has this condition can make you more prone to develop it.
What to do?
If you suspect you may be having bouts of sleep apnea, a talk with your doctor is in order. He or she is trained to spot the signs and symptoms of this disorder and can offer specific recommendations as to how to proceed. There are many tests that can be done to see if you are just a loud snorer or if there is something more serious going on.
Getting restful sleep is one of the most important things you can do to achieve good health. If you suspect you’re not getting the proper amount of rest at night, use the information we’ve discussed to investigate why. If you do have sleep apnea, remember that it’s a very treatable and controllable condition, and the more you know, the more it will empower you to take charge of your health.