Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder that affects an individual’s ability to breathe freely while they are asleep. It causes their breathing to be broken so that it interrupts their normal sleeping cycle. Although it is considered a common disorder, this condition can be very serious as the breathing of those suffering from it will stop or get very shallow during their sleep. These pauses can last in excess of 10 or 20 seconds, and can occur a few hundred times per night. Many individuals suffering from sleep apnea are unaware that they actually have a disease as it is simply regarded as a ‘difficulty sleeping well at nights’. Here are some common signs that can help you determine if you are at risk.
Let us first of all note that the only way to diagnose sleep apnea is by getting a sleep study done. These signs are simply common indicators, and by no means should they be used for self-diagnosis.
1. A Need to Sleep During the Day
If you find yourself constantly wanting to sleep during the days because you are just so tired and can barely keep your eyes open, you may want to consider the possibility of sleep apnea. Excessive sleepiness during waking hours is one of the main signs of sleep apnea. This results from either your brain forgetting to tell you to breath while you sleep, you have an obstruction to your airway or possibly both. You may have even awaken many times throughout the night trying to restart the breathing process without being aware you were doing it. This leaves you feeling tired and drained at a particular point of the day.
The condition causes the body to take in less oxygen which hampers its ability to push out carbon dioxide. This can lead to a decay of the brain cells which means the individual will not be able to focus or have full mental concentration. The effects can place others in danger as this individual could fall asleep while driving.
2. Snoring that is Loud and Persistent
If your loved ones begin to complain about how loudly you snore then sleep apnea may be the cause. Snoring may be an indication that something is interfering with your breathing while you sleep, and this may lead to apnea (pause in breathing). If you are told you snore loudly you should consider seeing a doctor.
3. Feeling Tired and Drained After Waking Up in the Mornings
Waking up in the morning and feeling tired may indicate that you did not sleep well during the night. When this happens, your oxygen level drops causing your brain to function less efficiently, and the body cells are unable to dispose of the carbon dioxide waste as it should.
4. Excessive Sweating While You Sleep
The imbalance between oxygen and carbon dioxide causes the body to work harder which resuults in excessive sweating.
5. Waking Up Suddenly
Many people who suffer from sleep apnea wake up suddenly to breathe in some air. Even though some are not aware of what is happening, they can feel their lungs starving for air and will make a big gasp as they try to get that air. For some, it may even seem to be a part of their dream.
Sleep apnea is a very serious condition which should be given urgent attention. If you find that you display any of these symptoms it is best to have it checked out right away. Sufferers should seek information about therapies such as using CPAP respirators. Treatment is available for the condition.
Matilda Wilson is an independent health researcher. Her particular field of research centers around respiratory problems.