What Is Sleep Apnea and How To Deal With It
They say a man can survive without food and water for up to 30 days. But did you know that one can’t survive without sleep for more than 11 days? Recent studies have pointed out that sleep is more important to us than anything else. Around 6 to 7 hours of sleep every night is a must for one’s physical, emotional and psychological well-being.
But, alas, sleep is not easy to come, these days. With changing lifestyle patterns such as imbalanced diet, too much exposure to laptops/phones and unavoidable stress, our sleeping cycles have been affected sharply. Difficulties in sleep range from disturbances caused by noise or irregular breathing to chronic insomnia.
A major sleeping disorder that is caused mainly by interrupted breathing is known as sleep apnea. In this condition, people find it difficult to have an undisturbed sleep and often wake up in the middle of the night to catch their breath. The interruptions in breathing can occur several times during a seven-hour period and, sometimes, can last for up to 10 seconds.
There could be various reasons that cause sleep apnea, some of them are:
Obesity – Excess fat in the abdomen can compress the diaphragm affecting the passage of air into our lungs.
Smoking – The nicotine in cigarettes can lead to decreased movement of the lungs, thus affecting the amount of air one can breathe.
Respiratory Issues – Any problems or conditions related to the nose and lungs like blockages or mucus formation can also lead to sleep apnea.
This form of sleep apnea, in which our breathing is interrupted due to various factors, is referred to as obstructive sleep apnea. In certain cases, termed as central sleep apnea, even though there are no apparent respiratory issues, the brain can have problems coordinating with the respiratory system and can fail to send the right messages to the nose.
Traditionally, sleep apnea can be managed with CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) which is a mechanical ventilation system that helps the patient in uninterrupted breathing. This mechanism includes a facial mask and a tube that prevents the airways in our system from collapsing. Modern treatments include simpler techniques without the need for a tube and an elaborate set-up. Yoga and acupressure have also been helpful in certain cases.
Apart from medical treatments, lifestyle changes can help considerably in enhancing one’s sleep cycle. Following some of these tips can help have a healthy sleep –
- Daily exercise for up to 30 minutes
- Avoid alcohol or sleeping pills
- Stop smoking
- Sleep at the same time every day to regulate your cycle
- Avoid eating spicy or oily food at night
If left untreated, sleep apnea could lead to fatigue, irritability, headaches, depression and, in some cases, heart failure or stroke. Many people suffering from sleep apnea may not realize their condition. They continue to suffer the symptoms helplessly. Hence, a proper medical diagnosis is important.
If you think you could be suffering from sleep apnea, you can get a sleep study test at CARE Outpatient Centre, Hyderabad. (Contact Us)