Trouble getting quality sleep? Signs you might have Sleep Apnea

Getting adequate sleep is incredibly important for our health. Just like healthy eating habits and daily exercise, a good night’s sleep goes a long way in ensuring a person’s optimal health and overall well-being.

If you have trouble sleeping, and have tried all the remedies possible, you should then give sleep apnea a thought. It is a sleeping disorder, which generally occurs due to interrupted breathing while a person is asleep.

Seems relevant? If yes, then, skim through the next sections to know more about this sleep disorder and see how you can cure it, as soon as possible!

Types of Sleep Apnea

Now, the first step would be to know the major types of sleep apnea that is commonly observed. This sleep disorder is of three types. And, these are:

  • Obstructive Sleep apnea: This form of sleep apnea is the most common one. These apneic (or apnea) episodes generally arise when the throat muscles relax intermittently, interfering with the air passage causing complete/partial blockage.
  • Central Sleep apnea: In this case, a sleep apnea will not result in an upper airway blockage. Instead, it affects the functioning of CNS (Central Nervous System) which results in the brain failing to send timely signals to the muscles, which are in control of breathing. 
  • Complex Sleep apnea syndrome: A rare type, also called treatment-emergent central sleep apnea results when you have both obstructive and central sleep apnea.

Now, when you know the different types, the next question that automatically arises is the causes that lead to sleep apnea. It's best if you have a good idea of the causes, first, so that you know which road to take, when it comes to deciding a solution to cure sleep apnea.

What are the causes of Sleep Apnea?

Causes of obstructive sleep apnea: This condition generally arises when our throat muscles relax and the air tracks narrow down or close, making it difficult to breathe. This lowers the oxygen level in your body. 

In most cases, when you end up waking, you might gasp for breath. While the intensity differs, some people experience it 5 times in an hour whereas in severe cases the count can be as high as 30 times in an hour. However, both result in one common drawback - not letting you have sound sleep.

Causes of central sleep apnea: This form of sleep apnea occurs when your brain cannot transmit signals to the muscles in charge of breathing. After the episodes of intermittent breathing, when your brain finally starts sending signals, you might rouse up gasping for breath after what feels like choking.

Still confused on whether sleep apnea is the case with you? Know the signs and symptoms that can help you distinguish sleep apnea from a poor sleeping lifestyle.

Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

The signs and symptoms that can be associated with sleep apnea are:

  • Snoring
  • Sore throat or dry mouth when waking up from sleep
  • Mood disorders like irritability or anxiety
  • Waking up a number of times during sleep or restlessness
  • Urinating frequently at night
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Waking up at night feeling like choking or gasping for breath
  • Frequent headaches
  • Night sweats

While sleep apnea is prevalent among adult males, at times even children can get affected by it. The symptoms, however, are a bit different in case of children. If you feel your child might have it, look out for the below signs - 

  • Poor performance in studies
  • Laziness
  • Breathing through the mouth in the day
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Sweating at night
  • Bedwetting
  • Behavioral disorders such as hypoactivity or hyperactivity, failing to concentrate in studies.
  • Unusual sleep position

What problems can you face if you have Sleep Apnea?

Well, of course, mood disturbances can easily be associated with sleep problems. But, if you don’t take this consistent sleep loss seriously, it can lead to some serious behavioral as well as health problems like:

  • Daytime fatigue: Waking up repeatedly at night can affect your normal sleep and lead to conditions like fatigue, irritability and severe daytime drowsiness. And, it may also affect your performance in work or school and make you depressed, quick-tempered or frustrated.
  • Heart problems: Intermittent breathing associated with sleep apnea leads to a drop in oxygen levels, which, in turn, can strain the cardiovascular system and increase your blood pressure. 

  • Post-surgery complications: People having sleep apnea can also have some complications after major surgery as they are prone to breathing issues. Likewise, you can have problems after certain medications or general anesthesia.

What's the Cure?

Sleep apnea treatment depends on a number of factors like your medical conditions, the severity and the type. Some of the treatment processes recommended by the doctors are: 

  • Lifestyle changes: The first and foremost thing that the doctor may prescribe you is to adopt a healthy lifestyle. Eating healthy food, stopping alcohol intake, maintaining proper body weight, indulging in regular physical activities are some of the lifestyle changes one can imbibe to cure sleep apnea.
  • Medications: Depending upon the severity of your condition, doctors can also suggest sleep medicines to treat sleep apnea. Sleep supplements increase your chances of having restful sleep, provided you are combining it with healthy sleep practises.
  • Breathing devices: Breathing devices such as CPAP machines are also recommended by doctors when the condition is mild. One also needs to maintain a healthy lifestyle along with using breathing devices.
  • Mouthpieces: Oral appliances or mouthpieces are suggested to keep the upper airway open. Mandibular repositioning mouthpiece and tongue retaining devices are some of the most common ones recommended by medical practitioners.
  • Therapies for the mouth and facial muscles: Commonly known as orofacial therapy, these help in improving your tongue positioning and vitalizes the muscles that control the tongue, lips, lateral pharyngeal wall, etc. 

  • Surgery: Surgical procedures are only recommended by the doctors when the patient does not respond to the treatment procedures mentioned above. Tonsillectomy (removal of the tonsils) and tracheostomy are some common surgical procedures done to cure sleep apnea.

Wrapping Up

Getting diagnosed with any type of disorder can be stressful. Good news? In most cases, sleep apnea can be cured naturally if you alter certain changes to your lifestyle and use sleep supplements that aid in sound sleep. 

If sleep apnea persists even after following the above, don’t hesitate to take medical help straight away and follow the guidelines issued by a doctor.