Obstructive sleep apnea is when the airways collapse or become blocked while sleeping. This sleep disorder can cause you to stop breathing for 20-30 seconds multiple times a night in your slumber. Research shows that men are more likely to have the condition than women but the risk of developing apnea increases when women approach menopause.
The most common causes of sleep apnea include excess weight and obesity. In overweight people, the soft tissue of the mouth and throat can cause airway blockages when the throat and tongue muscles relax during sleeping. The condition is potentially fatal if the airway obstruction extends, leading to a lack of oxygen to the heart and brain.
Therefore, it is important to know if you have or are developing the disorder and take precautions. Here are some ways to tell if you have or are at risk of developing sleep apnea.
1. You Are Noisy
Noisy sleepers are likely to suffer from sleep apnea. Night snoring and gasping for breath many times could be a disorder. The sounds are signs that there is an obstruction in your upper airway leading to intermittent air supply. However, it does not mean that all snorers have sleep apnea because other conditions like allergies and sinuses cause snoring.
Snoring occurs when the airway collapses, similar to what occurs during sleep apnea, although sleep apnea’s condition deals with a greater extent of airway collapsing. The louder the snoring, the more likely it is to be sleep apnea. The brain jolts the airways to open to start breathing again. The gasping could mean that you are experiencing interrupted breathing in your sleep.
To confirm the sleep disorder condition, your sleeping partner can observe your snoring patterns. There is usually an interruption in breathing between the snores occurring several times at night.
2. You Are Restless
Restlessness at night could be a sign of sleep apnea. Other disturbances like mental or physical unrest can cause restlessness at night. Such a situation is temporary, unlike sleep apnea which can occur for prolonged periods.
A common culprit of night restlessness is an uncomfortable bed and its implements that can interfere with your slumber. If your bed is uncomfortable or you’re stressed out, this can lead to restless sleep. To alleviate the problem, seek mattress reviews to get the best solution for an all-night peaceful sleep. Check your bedding, bed stability, etc., to rule out other triggers for night agitation.
Check that all your sleeping implements are in a pristine state. Sleep apnea may be the culprit if you still feel restless at night. Obstructed breathing makes you toss and turn at night several times and wake up to disheveled bedding.
3. You Are Always Tired
Frequent tiredness is a possible sign of sleep apnea. The sleeping disorder is associated with interrupted sleep, and tiredness is a sign you are not getting optimal sleep. You may not remember that you have woken up several times due to not breathing, but the body does, in the form of fatigue and restlessness.
A lack of oxygen to the brain due to not breathing throughout the night can also cause fatigue. Sleep is meant to restore the body’s energy and has several benefits like boosting the immune system, strengthening the heart, and improving mood. When you do not get enough sleep, you compromise bodily functions, making them dysfunctional.
The next time you experience general tiredness and cannot perform your routine daily functions, sleep apnea could be to blame. You will know it is a sleep disorder when the exhaustion is not a one-off experience but lingers for several days.
4. You Have a Health Condition
Factors such as excessive weight, asthma, smoking, hypertension, and chronic congestion can trigger sleep apnea. If you fit the profile for a condition that can lead to sleep apnea, keep an eye on your sleep to ensure you do not develop it. You can keep the disorder at bay by avoiding sleeping on your back.
Back sleeping causes the jaw, tongue, and other soft tissues to drop towards the throat, narrowing the airway. Try elevating your head using a pillow to prevent airway obstruction.
Sleep apnea can exacerbate existing conditions and develop new ones like high blood pressure, depression, and type 2 diabetes. Be alert for sleep apnea if you have an underlying health condition that could lead to a sleep disorder.
Know the Signs of Sleep Apnea
Awareness of sleep apnea signs is the first step to keeping safe. Recognizing the condition will help you take actions that alleviate it. The precautions to protect yourself include losing weight, avoiding alcohol, quitting smoking, and avoiding heavy meals two hours before going to sleep. You can also seek medical attention to test for sleep apnea if unsure of the diagnosis.