Sleep Apnea: The irritating interruption of peaceful sleep

Sleep Apnea is a common sleep disorder in which an individual’s breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep. It refers to pauses in breathing or shallow breaths during Sleep.

Sleep apnea may cause serious damage to the heart (arrhythmia and heart failure) due to high blood pressure. Sleep apnea may lead to lowering of oxygen levels, changes in carbon dioxide levels, pressure changes within the chest and inflammation. You are at risk of heart disease when you reach a condition where your breathing stops roughly 30 times or more per hour.

Types of Sleep Apnea

There are two types of sleep apnea:

  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea is due to obstruction of airway and inability to breath normally during sleep
  • Central Sleep Apnea occurs when the brain is not able to send proper signals to the muscles that control breathing.

 

Causes of Sleep Apnea

Various factors can contribute to the blocking or collapse of the airway:

Muscular changes – During sleep, the muscles that keep the airway open including the tongue relax, causing the airway to narrow. When awake, this relaxation does not prevent the flow of air

Physical obstructions – Additional thickened tissue or excessive fat stores around the airway causes restriction or blockage of airflow, and any air that squeezes through causes the loud snoring typically associated with obstructive sleep apnea.

Brain function – in central sleep apnea (CSA) – the less common form of sleep apnea the controls of breathing by the brain is abnormal. This interrupts the rhythm of breathing.

Note: Central Sleep Apnea (CSA) is associated with underlying medical conditions such as stroke or heart failure, recent ascent to high altitude or the use of pain relief medication.

Risk factors

Risk factors for sleep apnea include:

  • Supine (flat on back) sleeping
  • Obesity
  • Chronic sinusitis
  • Large neck circumference
  • Recent weight gain
  • Menopause
  • Large tonsils or adenoids
  • Down syndrome
  • Smoking
  • Family history of sleep apnea
  • Large neck circumference (greater than 17 inches for men, greater than 15 inches for women)

Effects of Sleep Apnea

The effects of sleep apnea include, waking up again and again throughout sleep, reduced duration of sleep, daytime sleepiness, fatigue and insomnia. Poor sleep leads to problems of memory, concentration and mood changes. During the condition of sleep apnea, you heart may be stressed, and there may be increased blood pressure and heart rate. There may be increased production of compounds that may cause inflammation.

You might notice some other symptoms too such as:

  • constant tiredness
  • poor concentration
  • morning headaches
  • depressed mood
  • night sweats
  • weight gain
  • lack of energy
  • forgetfulness
  • sexual dysfunction
  • frequent urination at night

Natural Remedy for Sleep Apnea

  1. Reach and Maintain a Healthy Weight.
  2. Avoid Excessive Alcohol, Smoking and Overuse of Sedatives.
  3. Treat Acid Reflux, Congestion and Coughs.
  4. Humidify Your Bedroom.
  5. Adjust Your Sleeping Position.
  6. Consider Using a Snore Guard or Sleep Device Temporarily.

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