Never Wake Up Rested? You Might Have Sleep Apnea
Plenty of people struggle with getting enough sleep, but if you're spending enough time in bed and still wake up tired, you might have a different problem. Being tired all the time even when you've slept the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep is a bad sign and could indicate that you are suffering from sleep apnea. This guide will explain what sleep apnea is, its symptoms, and what you should do if you think you have it.
What Is Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a disorder that causes the windpipe in the throat to collapse during sleep. Unlike snoring, sleep apnea can put your life at risk, as it can cause you to simply stop breathing during your sleep. Most people who experience sleep apnea and aren't treated will go through brief periods of time wherein they simply stop breathing. After a few seconds, your body will respond, and you'll catch your breath. However, once the muscles in your throat relax again, the process will repeat itself.
The main reason sleep apnea leaves you feeling tired is that your body and brain are being deprived of oxygen during your sleep. This is very stressful for the body and, in extreme circumstances, can even cause brain damage.
Sleep Apnea Risk Factors
The biggest risk factor for developing sleep apnea is being overweight or obese. As one gains weight, fat is sometimes stored in the throat. While this doesn't cause any problems while conscious and sitting or standing, once lying down and relaxed, the fat can push down on the windpipe, partially or fully shutting it.
However, even people who are at a healthy weight aren't immune from developing sleep apnea. This illness can strike anyone, and it can often be overlooked if you live alone, as you won't be keeping anyone awake with what sounds like snoring.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Thankfully, diagnosing and treating sleep apnea is typically an easy process. If you think you have sleep apnea, you'll need to talk to your general physician, who should refer you to a specialist. After a consultation and physical examination, the specialist will refer you to a sleep disorder clinic where you will spend the night.
The goal of having you stay at the sleep lab is to monitor your sleep. You will be hooked up to a variety of instrumentation that will monitor your oxygen levels, breathing, pulse, and blood pressure, among other things. If you're not breathing adequately during your sleep, the tests will reveal it.
If your doctors determine that you have sleep apnea, they will provide you with equipment called a CPAP machine. This device covers your mouth and nose and pushes air into your throat. It's perfectly painless and keeps the airway open with a steady stream of pressurized air, which will allow you to sleep peacefully all night long.
Sleep apnea is a disorder that make you feel tired all day, but it can also do a lot worse to your body and brain. If you think that you might have sleep apnea, or your partner has been complaining about your snoring, it's worth visiting a doctor to find out if you have this disorder.