If you have ever awakened from a deep sleep gasping for air, you may have it. If you snore, or have ever been told that you stop breathing when sleeping, you may have it. If you are sleepy and tired, fatigued or just plain worn out when you wake up, you may have it! If you struggle with driving because it always makes you feel sleepy, you may have it!
What is it you ask? It is sleep apnea.
I have no intention of trying to diagnose, treat or cure anyone from a simple blog post, however I do sincerely hope that you will watch this STOP BANG Live Facebook video where I will ask you 8 important questions, which will provide a great understanding of where you stand regarding the risk level associated with sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is a disease which is best described as a near or total cessation of breathing while sleeping. Many people suffer from sleep apnea having no idea they have it. If you stop breathing while you sleep, there is no way you will sleep well enough to truly feel rested in the morning. You see, with sleep apnea, when you enter into the deepest stage of sleep called REM sleep, everything in your body relaxes completely (including the musculature of the tongue, neck and throat area. This total relaxation produces blockages of the airway which when minimal produce a snoring sound, and eventually can completely block airflow, causing apnea (zero respiration) or hypopnea (extremely low respiration). In either of these two (apnea, or hypopnea) the brain eventually is alerted, waking you from this deep sleep, ad happily you begin breathing again, and unfortunately, no longer sleeping that deepest REM sleep. This cycle continues minute by minute, through the night. Night after night it goes, week after week, year after year the cycle continues.
If after watching the FB video above, you feel that you have an unacceptable risk, please contact your physician and have a discussion on this subject as there are several things you could consider which may completely resolve the sleep apnea problem.
You may need a sleep study to determine exactly what is happening when you sleep regarding your breathing and sleep patterns. Sleep studies may be performed in a hospital style lab, OR as technology has improved over the years in an impressive way, one may choose to do a sleep study in the privacy of your home. A home sleep study is performed by simply taking the equipment home, and doing it yourself, then having the report read in the morning. The equipment is very intuitive and simple. The type of study is determined by you and your physician. Once the results are assessed, if it is determined that you have sleep apnea, your physician will direct you on the next step.
CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) is a remarkable and effective way to help you get some real sleep in-spite of sleep apnea. This simple medical device has an air pressure producing unit with a lightweight hose. This air pressure is automatically delivered at the perfect amount, adjusted especially based on your specific need, and is delivered to the airway via nasal mask, or nasal pillows. It acts like an internal air splint to maintain the airway open through all phases of breathing, gently, quietly, and comfortably. When you are breathing normally, you will then be able to actually get that REM sleep you have been needing all along. Finally waking up feeling rested, and full of energy. CPAP is an extremely effective tool in alleviating the misery that sleep apnea can cause. I have seen many lives changed, and it all starts with STOP BANG.