Sleep Apnea: What is it and Why You Should Care
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that affects an estimated 6% of Americans. It is characterized by long pauses in breathing or shallow breathing while asleep. Each pause is known as an apnea episode, and in severe cases can last up for a few minutes. Shallow breathing episodes are known as hypopnea and often occur in between apnea episodes. People who have sleep apnea stop breathing hundreds of times while they are sleeping, depriving their brain and body of much-needed oxygen. Sleep apnea can be extremely severe and can cause other major health issues to develop.
- A sleep disorder that produces shallow breathing or pauses in breathing
- These pauses can be short or long – lasting from a few seconds to a few minutes
- A person with obstructive sleep apnea has an average of 60 apneas per hour
Understanding Sleep Apnea
- 2-4% of the American population suffers from apnea without a diagnosis.
- 9% of middle-aged women have obstructive sleep apnea
- 25% of middle-aged men have obstructive sleep apnea
- People who sleep next to apnea sufferers lose on average one hour of sleep per night.
- 50% of those with sleep apnea snore heavily.
- People who suffer from sleep apnea are twice as likely to have a car accident
- Apneas sufferers are six times more likely to die in a traffic accident due to fatigue.
People with untreated sleep apnea are at higher risk for certain medical conditions:
- 4 times as likely to have a stroke
- 3 times as likely to have heart disease
- More likely to be diagnosed with hypertension
Risk factors for sleep apnea
- Being overweight or obese – approximately two-thirds of people with OSA are overweight or obese
- Having a family history of sleep apnea or snoring
- Male gender
- Large neck circumference
- Advancing age
- Large tonsils
- Small lower jaw
What are common symptoms of sleep apnea?
- Loud, chronic snoring
- Choking, snorting, or gasping
- Restless sleep
- Extended pauses in breathing during sleep
- Headaches upon waking
- Difficulty concentrating or remember things
- Dry mouth or a sore throat upon waking
- Mood swings, irritability, and depression
- Unexplained sleepiness even after getting an appropriate amount of rest
If you are experiencing any of the common symptoms of sleep apnea or any of the items on this list, you should get tested right away:
- You are experiencing excessive daytime sleepiness
- You struggle to stay awake when sitting for a few minutes
- You snore loudly, gasp, or choke during sleep
- You need to drink caffeinated beverages or consume a lot of sugar throughout the day to stay awake
- You need to take sleep aids on a regular basis to get a full night’s sleep
- You’ve ever fallen asleep while driving
If left untreated, patients will develop a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, heart arrhythmias, diabetes, and stroke.
The first step in getting treatment for sleep apnea is to get a formal diagnosis. Diagnosis is based off an evaluation of a Sleep Assessment and the results of a home sleep test. During the home sleep test, you sleep overnight wearing a home sleep testing device. The data from the device and the results of your assessment will allow doctors to see precisely how many apnea episodes you have per night and will also give them information on your key sleep health indicators.
Treatments for sleep apnea
There are a variety of treatment options to select from depending on the severity of your sleep apnea.
- Lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, losing weight, and avoiding alcohol
- Custom-fit mouthpiece to help keep the airway open during sleep
- Breathing devices that blow air into the throat to keep it open
- Surgery to widen breathing passages when indicated
*Medications are only available to treat the sleepiness associated with sleep apnea, not the sleep apnea itself.
A Guide to Taking a Sleep Apnea Test
A home sleep test is a fast and accurate way to determine if you have obstructive sleep apnea and the first step to getting the successful sleep your body needs.
What is a home sleep test?
A home sleep test is specifically designed to diagnose obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). It enables you to take an OSA sleep test in the privacy and convenience of your home using a portable sleep monitor, as opposed to testing in a sleep laboratory.
A home sleep test eliminates time and discomfort. Instead of putting yourself through the hassle of setting up multiple doctor’s appointments and staying multiple nights in a sleep laboratory under unfamiliar and uncomfortable circumstances, you can perform a home sleep test in your own home.
Home sleep studies are just as effective at diagnosing obstructive sleep apnea as in-lab sleep tests, and may even be more accurate. Comfort is the most determining factor in a good night’s sleep. Familiarity and comfortability go hand in hand. That is why most people find it difficult to sleep in a new environment, especially for the first night. Understandingly so, many patients find it extremely difficult to sleep normally in a hospital or sleep lab; there are lots of new sounds, lights, smells, and a new uncomfortable bed. Sleeping in the comfort of your own home is the best way to get accurate results of your usual sleeping pattern.
3 Simple Steps Will Get You Answers
- Getting Started— Get a Sleep Profile Plus today to see what’s going on with your sleep so you can get back to being yourself!
- Testing— Your in-home sleep testing kit will be sent to you via the U.S. Postal Service Priority Mail. To complete the test, follow the step by step illustrated instructions enclosed. Once you complete your sleep testing, return your home test to Vitalistics in the enclosed, prepaid shipping envelope.
- Results— You can expect to receive your interpreted test results within 2-3 business days upon our receipt.
Listen to your body’s cry for help and place an order for your home sleep test today through Vitalistics. Take the first step to treating OSA and giving yourself the restful night of sleep you deserve, every night.
Studies show that poor sleep quality is linked to migraines and headaches. Between 36 to 58% of people with sleep apnea wake up with headaches.
When asleep your throat muscles relax and get narrower each time that you inhale. Sleep apnea (impaired breathing during sleep) can be caused by fat buildup, poor muscle tone or aging, and can be considered dangerous.
Benefits of treating your sleep apnea with CPAP
- Your 10-year risk of stroke is reduced by 31%.
- The 10-year expected number of myocardial infarctions is reduced by 49%
- Your 10-year risk of fatal and nonfatal motor vehicle accidents is reduced by 52%