Sleep apnea occurs when we stop breathing in our sleep usually for 10 seconds or more.
When we are awake our brain keeps the muscles around our throat engaged and airways open. When we go to sleep though, these muscles are disengaged and our airways start to narrow which can cause snoring.
When the airways block completely, our body starves of oxygen and after a while, the brain realizes that we’re not breathing. This can result in a release of adrenalin into our body to wake us up and take a breath. (Ever woken up with a sudden loud snort?). Most of the time we don’t consciously wake up but we come straight out of the restorative stages of sleep to take a breath and then our body goes back to sleep and the cycle repeats over and over again all night. (No wonder you’re still tired after all this carry on all night!)
How do I know if I have sleep apnea?
Apart from waking up with bruised ribs Inflicted by a sleep deprived partner attempting to stop your snoring with a swift elbow to the mid-section, common symptoms include:
• Snoring or choking in your sleep
• Always tired regardless of how long you sleep
• The ability to go to sleep any time any where
• Poor concentration
• Short term memory loss (keys, wallet etc.)
• Frequent bathroom visits at night
• Restless legs
What happens if I do nothing?
Chances are, you will be instructed to sleep in the spare room or on the couch.
The serious side is that if you have sleep apnea and you don’t treat it, you may be in a much higher risk of:
• Heart attack
• In ability to control obesity