There’s a sleep disorder that afflicts 22 million Americans called Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). It’s an insidious condition that can shave years off your life and exacerbate a host of chronic diseases, like heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
Here’s What Happens
As you drift off to sleep, possibly on your back, your tongue and soft tissues intermittently relax, causing them to obstruct your airway while you sleep.
1. Pauses in Breathing
What’s frightening about this condition is that this blockage causes you to stop breathing, potentially up to 300 times a night or more, for several seconds at a time. Your body will fight for air, causing a loud snort or choking sound, which is a sign that your body is struggling to get the oxygen it needs.
Perhaps you have a partner who complains of your snoring, which results in a jab to the ribs and a loud, “roll over!” A snoring or rattling sound happens when soft tissues in the back of your throat partially block your airway; however, when your airway is completely blocked, you have OSA.
3. Daytime Sleepiness
You may have excessive daytime sleepiness. Do you ever nod off while sitting in your vehicle at a stoplight or watching a movie? That’s another common symptom of OSA. You’re body is struggling night after night to get the sleep it needs, just to be woken up over and over again. This makes getting a restorative night’s sleep impossible.
4. Memory Issues & Depression
A 2019 study published in the journal Current Biology indicates that a disrupted Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep phase negatively impacts the process and storing of memories, which are essential for long-term learning.
Researchers found that volunteers who had a disrupted REM sleep phase also reacted more negatively and emotionally to events that had happened the previous day. Now, imagine if you’re unable to reach a REM phase of sleep, night after night? It’s one reason why depression is a common symptom for those of us with sleep apnea.
5. Morning Headache
Your alarm goes off and you struggle to get your act together for another day. Now, if you have OSA, your sleepiness may be compounded by a pounding headache. This is a result of there being too little oxygen in your blood being transported to your brain. This, again, is a result of the pauses in breathing that happens throughout the course of the night.
Treatments are Available
There are treatments available for OSA, including CPAP, which is a device that uses positive pressure to keep your airway open while sleeping. Your sleep apnea can also be treated with an oral appliance, which thrusts your lower jaw forward during sleep. You can also opt for invasive surgery to reduce any obstruction from your oral cavity or airway.
Start with a Diagnosis
What’s key is getting a diagnosis for OSA, which can be done quickly and easily with our home sleep test. Click here to order your MH Sleep Test today and get your health back on track.