Sleep is one of those things we simply cannot do without. You can put it off for a while, but sooner or later, you’ll need to sleep extra to make up for what you lost. Sleep deprivation is so bad, it can be considered a form of torture.
If you suffer from sleep apnea, then you probably already know sleep deprivation is like torture.
Sleep apnea is when you stop breathing while you are asleep. There can be several causes. Obstructive sleep apnea is when your throat muscles relax so much, their weight closes your airway while you sleep. Central sleep apnea is caused when your brain stops telling your body to keep breathing. Either way, you never get a good night’s sleep.
Since sleep apnea is still being studied, there are many myths out there about its causes, effects, and remedies. To set the record straight, here are five truths about sleep apnea that you should know.
Truth: In the short-term, sleep apnea can cause irritability, fatigue, inability to focus, and more.
When you were younger, you probably spent at least one night when you never went to bed. Staying up all night was fun. The next day, though, was probably a bit rough. You were young, so you could deal with it better. Things have changed. You’re older, and missing out on a good night’s rest can be harder to deal with.
In the short-term, people with sleep apnea often are more irritable. You’re more likely to snap at people when you’re exhausted. You’re usually very tired despite not being able to fall asleep. (In fact, you’re so tired because you can’t sleep.) This can sap your energy and make you just want to sit around and rest. You can also have trouble focusing. This can hurt your performance at school or at work.
Truth: In the long-term, sleep apnea increases your risk of heart disease, hypertension, depression, and more.
Unfortunately, the problems with irritability, fatigue, and staying focused are just the beginning. Your body need sleep to stay healthy and energetic. Going without the proper amount of sleep for so long thanks to sleep apnea can have some serious long-term health effects.
People with sleep apnea can suffer from depression. Your brain gets deprived of the rest it needs, so it can make it hard to be positive. You don’t get enough oxygen, so you face hypertension as your body tries to pump blood faster. This also puts extra stress on your heart, which can lead to heart disease.
Truth: Bad snoring is a common sign of sleep apnea.
If your airway starts to close with obstructive sleep apnea, you often make a lot of noise as air is pushed through a small, bent passageway. This is why people with sleep apnea tend to snore loudly and often. If you or your spouse snores all the time, there’s a good chance sleep apnea is the culprit.
However, sometimes you can have sleep apnea without much snoring. If you have some other signs, including fatigue and irritability, you should probably be evaluated.
Truth: Being overweight increases your chances, but anyone can get sleep apnea.
Some people associate bad snoring with being overweight, so they associate sleep apnea with it as well. There is truth to that. If you are obese, you are more likely to suffer from sleep apnea. However, the two aren’t necessarily matched. You could be overweight and not have sleep apnea. You could also be thin and still suffer from sleep apnea. Weight does not necessarily mean you will or will not get this sleep disorder.
Truth: Not every person will need a CPAP machine.
The Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine is a device that pumps some air into your airway to help keep it open. For many people, it helps fight sleep apnea so they can get some sleep like they should. However, CPAP machines can be noisy and uncomfortable. Instead, you can get a dental split from either of our Connecticut offices. This small device is worn over your teeth while you sleep. It shifts your jaw just enough to help keep you breathing during sleep.
If you are tired of spending so many nights losing sleep, contact either of our two Connecticut offices — Bridgeport/Trumbull at 203-372-1220 or Shelton at 203-378-9737 — or use our online tool to make an appointment for sleep apnea treatment.