The sleeping disorder that is characterized by abnormal pauses in breathing is called sleep apnea. Every time you pause during your breathing, it is called apnea. This can occur as few times in an hour as five, or as many as 30 and can last anywhere from a few seconds to minutes. Of course, determining that you have sleep apnea isn’t something you can do and the only way to be diagnosed with this sleeping disorder is an overnight test known as polysomnogram, otherwise known as a sleep study.
There are three different types of sleep apnea you may be diagnosed with. There are also ways to determine that your sleeping patterns may not be right and certain things you do that may cause this apnea. If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea, there are treatments and cures that can help you sleep peacefully.
Types of Sleep Apnea
Also known as Cheyne–Stokes respiration, this form of sleep apnea occurs when the respiratory control centers in your brain are found to be imbalanced during the time you are sleeping. With this apnea, there is no attempt from the body to breathe during the time that you are pausing. When the apnea finishes and you begin to breathe again, it may be faster than normal.
With the central sleep apnea, your airway isn’t blocked, but the brain doesn’t tell your body to breathe. This happens when the blood levels of carbon dioxide and the mechanisms in the brain don’t react quickly enough to tell the body to breathe again.
Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common form that occurs in people around the world. With this apnea, it isn’t your brain neglecting to tell your body to breathe that causes the breathing problems; rather your breathing will stop or be slowed by something blocking your airway. Your brain will still attempt to tell your body to breathe and the air is still being forced through the smaller space, which will create the sound that bothers many families: snoring.
Those who sleep in the same room as you may be able to determine that you have obstructive sleep apnea because of your snoring pattern. Normally with this type of sleep apnea, your snoring will begin almost immediately after you fall asleep. The snoring will be loud and continue to get louder. Then, the snoring will stop when you stop breathing. Once the air gets through the airway again, then you will begin snoring again and then may let out a gasp.
- Complex or Mixed Sleep Apnea
In some cases those with sleep apnea have a form of the condition that features obstructive and central symptoms. This happens when obstructive sleep apnea is longstanding. When this occurs, symptoms of central apnea could begin to develop. This will usually only happen with the obstructive sleep apnea occurring first, as there is no way for the central sleep apnea to have this much of an impact on your body.
There are different symptoms for sleep apnea that could help those around you distinguish which condition you have. Common symptoms of central sleep apnea include constant fatigue, morning headaches, voice changes, body numbness, chronic sleepiness, difficulty swallowing, and weakness. This form of sleep apnea can lead to problems with retaining information, impotence, high blood pressure, severe headaches, cardio diseases, and more. More importantly, most of these problems that can occur will have an impact on your ability to effectively complete your work.
If you wake up and you are immediately grumpy, don’t just think it is because you didn’t get enough sleep. It could be a symptom of obstructive sleep apnea. Also, if you are forgetful, are often tired no matter how much sleep you get, feel drowsy when you wake up, suffer from severe migraines and headaches, or have a snoring pattern that was described above. If you suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, you could have a low blood oxygen level which is also known as hypoxemia. It can also lead to heart failure, depression, sleep deprivation, leg swelling, and hyperactive behavior. The problems that can arise from this form of sleep apnea are dangerous and need to be treated or else you risk serious injury.
There are also various general symptoms of sleep apnea including:
- Impaired alertness
- Continuous fatigue
- Daytime sleepiness
- Difficulty swallowing
- Body numbness
- Voice changes
- Morning headaches and drowsiness
- Failure to complete normal tasks at work
- Vision and memory problems
- Difficulty focusing
- Decrease in attentiveness
Causes of Sleep Apnea
When you try to determine what it is you do every day that has an impact on your sleep apnea, the list is long. There are lifestyle issues that have an impact including being overweight, smoking, drinking, taking sedatives, and more. Essentially, if you are living an unhealthy life, you will risk getting sleep apnea.
Another factor in your sleep apnea is your age and your family genes. According to reports from the National Sleep Foundation, your chances of developing sleep apnea are higher if you older than 30 years old. It can still develop in younger individuals, but it is more common to occur in adults.
You may also develop sleep apnea if you suffer from any medical condition that affects your breathing process. It can also occur if you suffer from arthritis at the base of your skull or on your spine.
There are many ways to treat your sleep apnea. Generally, the consumption of alcohol or caffeine before bed should be avoided. You should also avoid sleeping on your back, quit smoking, eat healthy and cut out those late night stops to your favorite fast foot joint, and exercise regularly.
If changing your lifestyle doesn’t work, the next best way to help fix the problem would be continuous positive airway pressure or CPAP. CPAP has a mask with a tube connected to a machine that constantly pushes out air pressure which keeps your airways open during your sleep. It is one of the most effective ways of treating sleep apnea, but surgery can also be used in extremely serious conditions.