Unless our co-driver, spouse or significant other complains about us sounding like a train at night, most people don’t think of snoring as something to worry about. However, it could be a symptom of a serious condition that affects your body’s ability to take in oxygen and function properly the next day.
Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when breathing suddenly stops, or becomes very shallow, and the passages of the throat temporarily collapse. These “mini wake-ups” typically go unnoticed, last between 10 and 20 seconds and can occur up to hundreds of times a night, jolting you out of your natural sleep rhythms.
Another less common form of sleep apnea – central sleep apnea, is seldom accompanied with snoring and occurs when the brain fails to control breathing during sleep.
Both types of sleep apnea cause you to spend more of the night in light sleep rather than restorative deep sleep. As a consequence, the body suffers from chronic sleep deprivation, poor reflexes, and an increased risk of accidents. This can be a big concern if the safety of you and others on the road depends on staying awake and alert.
Here is a list of obvious, and not so obvious symptoms that could indicate you’re suffering from obstructive sleep apnea:
- – Daytime sleepiness
- – Snoring and/or choking sounds while sleeping
- – Abrupt awakenings accompanied by shortness of breath
- – Rapidly falling asleep during quiet moments of the day
- – Morning headaches
- – Memory or learning problems
- – Inability to concentrate or pay attention
- – Waking up frequently to urinate
- – Dry mouth or sore throat when you wake up
More than 18 million adults have sleep apnea. Risk factors of obstructive sleep apnea include certain physical traits such as having a thick neck, large tongue or deviated septum, being overweight, male, over the age of 40, a smoker or related to someone with the condition.
According to experts, if gone untreated, sleep apnea can be life-threatening and you should consult your doctor immediately if you think that you may be suffering from it.
For a comprehensive guide in detecting, preventing and treating sleep apnea, check out www.helpguide.org