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  • Writer's pictureAlist Nation

Sleepy, tired, exhausted…. Sleep apnea may be the culprit

Sleep is part of each cycle in our day. We are sensitive to how much sleep we get and are aware of the bare minimum to make it through the day. Sometimes this nightly routine is not easy and sometimes it’s amazing.

However, sleep apnea is a common but very serious sleep disorder among many people.

Serious disorder

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder which takes place when a person’s breathing is interrupted while they’re sleeping. This can happen hundreds of times in one bout of sleep. The problem is that if breathing is momentarily stopping, the brain and body are not getting oxygen. There are 2 types of this. Obstructive sleep apnea (OPA) is the more common type in which the airway is blocked and the throat collapses. Central sleep apnea is when the brain isn’t signaling the body to breathe. Communication is ineffective with the respiratory system.

Here are the common risk factors for sleep apnea:

1. Being overweight

2. Being overweight

3. Being over age 40

4. Gastroesophageal reflux, or GERD

5. Having a large neck size (17 inches or greater in men and 16 inches or greater in women)

6. Having large tonsils, a large tongue, or a small jaw bone

7. Having a family history of sleep apnea

8. Nasal obstruction which could be from a deviated septum, allergies, or sinus problems

Don’t go untreated

Many people are unaware they have sleep apnea but notice that they are waking up tired or feel exhausted during the day. Their partner might tell them they snore very loud, but a lot of people snore so they don’t make much of the accusation. However, if left untreated, there are many health risks:

· High blood pressure

· Stroke

· Heart failure, irregular heartbeats, and heart attacks

· Diabetes

· Depression

· Worsening of ADHD

· Headaches


If you have any of these symptoms, go see your doctor. From there, they might have you to do a sleep study to monitor your eye movement, heart rate, breathing, choking, and/or snoring. The CPAP, continuous positive airward pressure device, is a common tool for treatment. The CPAP is a mask that fits over the nose and/or mouth. The person blows their air while sleeping into the airway of the mask. Other methods of treatment include dental appliances that can lower the jaw and tongue to open the airway. There is a device that is disposable and covers the valves of the nostrils to allow positive air pressure. Nerve stimulation can also be done by inserting a device into the person’s chest that will control tongue movement. Other lifestyle changes like losing weight and cutting out alcohol and smoking can help.

Get you zzzz’s

It's hard to argue that lack of sleep is not fun. Sadly, many of us are used to this with life’s demands. However, serious cases when sleep deprivation is continuous need to be addressed. We want our mind and body to be operating as best as possible so be sure to get those zzzz’s.

Written by: Megan Johnson McCullough


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