Are you nodding off during the day? Do you find it difficult to concentrate? Does your partner often wake you because you’re snoring loudly or have stopped breathing?
These are signs of obstructive sleep apnea, which causes you to temporarily stop breathing while you sleep. These pauses can last 10 seconds or longer and can occur 30 times or more an hour, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
During the pauses, your brain isn’t getting oxygen. It wakes you up so you’ll start breathing again. But the constant interruptions keep you from getting restful sleep, which can make you sleepy and irritable during the day.
From 2 to 14 percent of Americans are thought to have sleep apnea; it’s more common in older adults and people who are obese.
Because it causes daytime sleepiness and interferes with concentration, it can lead to motor vehicle accidents and workforce injuries.
Sleep apnea increases the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and depression. The chronic disease also is associated with atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat), congestive heart failure, cardiovascular disease, and sudden cardiac death.
Fortunately, effective treatments exist for sleep apnea; these can reduce your chances of developing serious medical conditions.
See your primary care physician or healthcare provider if you think you have sleep apnea.
You may be sent to a specialist for a sleep study. During this overnight study, a technician will watch you sleep and monitor your breathing, heartbeat, and oxygen saturation levels to determine if you have sleep apnea.
If so, you may need a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine, which can help keep your airways open while you sleep.
It’s hard to enjoy life if you’re always sleepy. Better sleep leads to better physical, emotional, and mental health. Our sleep medicine experts can help you get back on track to a good night’s sleep. To contact the sleep lab, call (903) 877-5911. To make an appointment, call (903) 877-7916.