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Not Getting Enough Sleep? Sleep Apnea Might be to Blame


Computer Guy

Do you spend your days in an exhausted fog? Are you having difficulty concentrating on daily tasks, even after what you thought was a good night's sleep? This might be due to sleep apnea; a serious sleep disorder that occurs when a person's breathing is interrupted during sleep.

What is Sleep Apnea?

People with untreated sleep apnea stop breathing repeatedly when they're asleep, sometimes hundreds of times during the night. This means the brain and the rest of the body do not get enough oxygen. There are two types of sleep apnea:

  1. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA): OSA is caused by a blockage of the airway, usually when the soft tissue in the back of the throat collapses during sleep.
  2. Central Sleep Apnea: The airway is not blocked, but the brain fails to signal the muscles to breathe due to instability in the respiratory control center.

The brain responds to this lack of oxygen by sending signals to the person to wake up enough to start breathing again. A cyclic pattern occurs throughout the night of falling asleep, airway collapsing, breathing cessation, drop in oxygen levels, waking up, and breathing again.

Risk Factors

Sleep apnea can affect anyone at any age. Risk factors are:

  • Being male
  • Being overweight
  • Being over the age of 40
  • Having a large neck size (17 inches or greater in men and 16 inches or greater in women)
  • Having large tonsils, a large tongue or a small jawbone
  • Having a family history of sleep apnea
  • Gastroesophageal reflex (GERD)
  • Nasal obstruction due to a deviated septum, allergies or sinus problems

Health Concerns

If left untreated, sleep apnea can result in a growing number of health problems:

  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Heart failure, irregular heartbeats, and heart attacks
  • Depression
  • Morning headaches

Untreated sleep apnea results in oxygen deprivation, which puts enormous stress on an individual's cardiovascular and metabolic systems.

Treatment Options

Those who suffer from sleep apnea often do not recognize that they have a sleep disorder and do not report their symptoms to a physician. It is time to seek a doctor when:

  • Snoring is loud enough to disturb the sleep of others and yourself.
  • Shortness of breath that awakens you from sleep.
  • Intermittent pauses in your breathing during sleep.
  • Excessive daytime drowsiness, which may cause you to fall asleep while you're performing daily activities.

A doctor will help you find the right treatment method:

  • Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP): The patient wears a mask attached to a small machine via a hose.
  • Mandibular Advancement Device (MAD): The patient wears a small, custom device like an orthodontic retainer or mouth guard.
  • Weight loss
  • Positional therapy: Some people only have sleep apnea when they sleep on their back. By the person sleeping on their side, it can reduce or eliminate airway blockage.
  • Surgery
  • Abstaining from alcohol before bed

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America knows that getting a good night's sleep can be difficult. But adults do need six to eight hours of quality sleep. Anything that disrupts or fragments sleep, subtracts from the quality of sleep. IAA wants you to have a restful night, so be sure to see your physician if you are experiencing these problems. Just think of us as your insurance sandman. Sweet dreams!

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