WHAT’S HAPPENING TO ME?
I haven’t had a good night’s sleep in 9 to 12 months. I used to be a major multi-tasker. I never took naps. I loved the challenge of organizing an event or project, planning a week or two of meals for my family, loved having out-of-town company, reading and a variety of other activities.
Now, I just feel fatigue and want to take multiple naps every day, have difficulty concentrating, have become forgetful and unorganized. Planning one meal is a challenge. The thought of out-of-town company is overwhelming. If I try to read, I just fall asleep. My blood pressure went sky high and I am now on blood pressure medication. I’ve been diagnosed with heart disease. And, my vision seems to be getting worse.
THE CULPRIT – SLEEP APNEA
My brain and body were not getting enough oxygen because my breathing was being interrupted. I would actually stop breathing repeatedly during my sleep (52 times an hour, according to the sleep study I had). Some people stop breathing more often than that. It is a serious sleep disorder and it occurs during normal sleep when your throat muscles relax. The airway can get blocked and it slows or stops the movement of air, and the oxygen in your blood drops.
Untreated sleep apnea can have very serious long-term health effects. It can be deadly. If you get treatment, your blood pressure may go back to normal, you will get relief from the constant fatigue you have been experiencing, your thinking should become clearer and you may even lose weight. You should be able to plan and initiate tasks more efficiently, process information and work more effectively and your memory and learning capabilities should improve.
A CPAP machine is the most common treatment, which sends pressurized air into your nose and throat at night and makes it easier for you to keep breathing while you sleep. CPAP stands for “continuous positive airway pressure”. Your sleep study will determine the amount of pressure you need. Sleep apnea will continue to be a problem for most people diagnosed, so it will need to be used regularly for good quality sleep and to avoid the serious complications associated with this disorder. I’m looking forward to getting my machine soon and seeing improvement in the quality of my life.
High blood pressure Heart disease
Stroke Irregular heart beats
Heart attack Type 2 diabetes
Weight gain Adult asthma
Car accidents Worsening of ADHD
RISK FACTORS: (can affect any sex, race or age)
Being male Excessive weight
Age above 40 Large neck size (greater than 16-17 inches)
Enlarged tonsils or tongue Small jaw bone
Gastro esophageal reflux Allergies
Sinus problems Family history of sleep apnea
Deviated septum Alcohol, sedatives and tranquilizers
Smoking High blood pressure
Daytime sleepiness or fatigue (#1 symptom) Loud or frequent snoring
Silent pauses in breathing Choking or gasping sounds
Non-refreshing sleep Restlessness during sleep
Insomnia Morning headaches
Difficulty concentrating Memory loss
Depression Acid reflux
Waking during the night to go to the bathroom Breathing through the mouth
Dry mouth/dry throat Mood swings