By Eric Stengle, Founder, Family Sleep Diagnostics
Snoring is a common sleep-related complaint. Most people snore at some point or another. Snoring can also happen when you are physically exhausted.
However, if your snoring is causing constant sleep disruptions and you wake gasping for air each time, then it is time to consult with a professional sleep coach. You could be suffering from a sleep disorder known as sleep apnea.
In sleep apnea, a person may experience repeated pauses in their breathing while sleeping which can extend anywhere from five to thirty times in an hour or more.
These constant pauses in breathing not only affects the sleep quality of the individual, but more importantly, it can lead to cardiovascular problems which include hypertension, stroke, heart failure, and lead to other health risks such as type 2 diabetes.
In some cases, untreated sleep apnea can even become potentially life-threatening.
In the United States, one in three deaths occurs due to heart disease. In fact, heart disease is the number one cause of death in the country.
And because numerous studies have shown there is a close link between sleep apnea and heart disease, if you or anyone you know is suffering from sleep apnea, don’t ignore the condition – seek medical help or consult with a professional sleep coach at the earliest.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Heart Disease
Mild sleep apnea impacts at least one in every five adults. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most common type of sleep apnea.
In people suffering from OSA, pauses in breathing occur due to partial or complete obstruction of the upper airway. This obstruction happens because of soft tissue and muscles that have lost their tone.
Excess weight is the main factor for muscles losing tone. These muscles and soft tissue fall back and constrict the airway leading to pauses in breathing.
OSA is also commonly associated with obesity – a leading health concern and a high-risk factor for developing heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Constant sleep disruptions can lead to sleep deprivation. As a result, a person might constantly feel low on energy.
To make up for the drop in energy levels, most people make the mistake of consuming high-calorie foods which are often high on sugar as well – leading to further obesity.
Diabetes is another condition which is closely linked to heart disease. And undiagnosed OSA is common among diabetics.
Sleep apnea, in fact, is linked to insulin intolerance and poor glucose control which can cause further health complications in people suffering from type 2 diabetes.
Common Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
- Loud snoring.
- Excessive sleepiness during waking hours.
- Repeated pauses in breathing while sleeping.
- Waking up abruptly accompanied by choking sounds or loud gasps for air.
- Waking up with a sore or dry throat.
- Waking up with a morning headache.
- Low energy and productivity levels.
- High blood pressure.
- Mood swings – ranging from depression to anxiety.
- Decreased libido.
When it is Time to Seek Professional Medical Help
As is the case with any medical condition, identifying and treating OSA at the earliest can prevent the sleep disorder from worsening and impacting your health. If you notice any of the four signs, please seek professional help.
- Your snoring is loud enough to disturb the sleep of your partner.
- You often wake up choking or gasping for breath.
- Your breathing stops and resumes several times during sleep.
- You suffer from excessive daytime drowsiness and low energy levels during work hours.
- You tend to snore the loudest when sleeping on your back as opposed to when you sleep on your side.
It is important to note here that while loud snoring is a common symptom of sleep apnea, it is not necessary that everyone who snores has sleep apnea. As mentioned above, physical exhaustion can also lead to snoring.
The only way to confirm if you suffer from a sleep disorder is to undergo a thorough examination.
An accurate diagnosis is also necessary for any sleep disorder since a number of symptoms such as mood swings and fatigue overlap for different sleep disorders. In narcolepsy, for example, a person might suffer from excessive daytime drowsiness as well.
The good news, however, is that OSA can be treated. The most successful option being continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy. Surgical intervention is reserved for more severe cases only.
Family Sleep Diagnostics – Saving Lives and Marriages
If you or anyone close to you is suffering from sleep apnea or any other sleep disorder, we can help. You can reach us at Family Sleep Diagnostics or give us a call at (972) 714-0011.