Do you toss and turn while your partner appears to be in a deep sleep, complete with loud snoring? If so, you should learn more about sleep apnea. Up to 1 in 4 men and 1 in 10 women are believed to have sleep apnea, but researchers estimate less than 15% of those with it actually know they have it.
That’s because most people with sleep apnea are not aware of most arousals. But the quality of their sleep is poor, leaving them tired and sometimes wondering why they feel so drained. Fatigue is not the only result of sleep apnea. Uncontrolled apnea over many years can lead to higher risks of heart problems, high blood pressure, and strokes.
Many people may relate sleep apnea to snoring. But they should take note that there is a difference between sleep apnea and snoring. Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder which causes a person to have shallow breathing patterns or pauses in breathing. Snoring, on the other hand is a vibration of the respiratory system that results to sounds because of blocked air movement. They do usually go hand in hand because snoring is a result of sleep apnea most of the time from an obstructed air passageway.
Risk factors include being overweight, abnormalities in the structure of the nose or throat and a family history of apnea. The most common risk factor for sleep apnea is weight and obesity.
Here are the signs to look for:
- Learning from a spouse, partner or roommate that during sleep you struggle for breath.
- Waking up tired and not refreshed even after seven to eight hours in bed.
- Suffering morning headaches.
- Struggling to stay awake at work, behind the wheel or while relaxing
- Finding it difficult to concentrate.
To see of you have sleep apnea, a sleep study where the patient spends a night in a sleep lab and their sleep patterns are monitored is often recommended.
Try Lifestyle Changes
If you have mild sleep apnea, there are lifestyle changes that may help:
- Losing excess weight
- Avoiding alcohol and cigarettes
- Sleeping on your side in order to keep the air path clear.