OBSTRUCTIVE SLEEP APNEA (Most Common Sleep Disrder)
The noisy sounds of snoring occur when there is an obstruction to the free flow of air through the passages at the back of the mouth and nose. This area is the collapsible part of the airway where the tongue and upper throat meet the soft palate and uvula. Snoring occurs when these structures strike each other and vibrate during breathing. Snoring is a medical problem when it disturbs sleeping patterns and deprives the snorer of appropriate rest. When snoring is severe, it can cause serious, long-term health problems, including obstructive sleep apnea.
In sleep apnea, your breathing stops or gets very shallow while you are sleeping. Each pause in breathing typically lasts 10 to 20 seconds or more. These pauses can occur 20 to 30 times or more an hour. The most common type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea. During sleep, enough air cannot flow into your lungs through your mouth and nose even though you try to breathe. When this happens, the amount of oxygen in your blood may drop. Normal breaths then start again with a loud snort or choking sound.
Because the snorer does not get a good rest, he may be sleepy during the day, which impairs job performance and makes him a hazardous driver or equipment operator. After many years with this disorder, elevated blood pressure and heart enlargement may occur.
Why does sleep apnea occur?
1. Excessive Tissue – When you are asleep the tongue and other muscles in the throat relax. This floppy tissue can decrease the size of your airway. As a result, your airway closes and airflow stops periodically during sleep.
2. Weight – During sleep, excessive weight around the neck and chest can create a narrowing of the airway due to the weight of muscles relaxing on the throat and chest. If you have a large neck or are clinically overweight you may suffer from sleep apnea.
Do I have sleep apnea?
If you get up in the morning feeling as though you haven't slept, feel irritable, short-tempered, and sometimes have difficulty concentrating, this could be due to depletion of oxygen to the brain. The brain knows just how much oxygen it needs to function properly and without the proper amount you will feel drained. The fact that you don't feel well will show in your actions and performance at school or work the following day. Chronic snorers tend to develop high blood pressure and are more apt to have heart and lung problems than non-snorers.
What Else Should I Know?
Sleep apnea is a potentially life-threatening disorder and will only get worse if left untreated. If this sounds like something that may affect you, please do not hesitate to discuss it with your physician today or call us to schedule an appointment with one of our Board Certified Sleep Specialist.
Don't Ignore the Snore!
Did you know that one in three Americans suffer from a sleep disorder? An estimated 30 million Americans suffer from a common sleep disorder called “obstructive sleep apnea”.
Having a sleep disorder causes great discomfort and the increased risk of developing a wide range of health-related problems such as hypertension, depression, job impairment, industrial accidents and even driving fatalities. In fact, sleep apnea— a condition in which the air passage in the throat becomes blocked – can cause a person to stop breathing from 10 to 100 seconds at a time, from 5 to over 100 times an hour, during one night’s sleep. As a result, oxygen levels in the bloodstream fall, the heart works harder which may lead to high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack and/or abnormal heart rhythms.
If you suspect you or someone you know may have sleep apnea, please contact us or your physician for additional information.
Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)
Restless Legs Syndrome is a neurological sensorimotor disorder that is characterized by an overwhelming urge to move the legs when they are at rest. The urge to move the legs is usually, but not always, accompanied by unpleasant sensations. It is less common but possible to have RLS symptoms in the arms, face, torso, and genital region. RLS symptoms occur during inactivity and movement or pressure temporarily relieves them. Symptoms of RLS are most severe in the evening and nighttime hours and can profoundly disrupt a patient's sleep and daily life. RLS symptoms often improve with medical treatment.
Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMD)
Periodic limb movements in sleep (PLMS) is a condition during sleep in which the limbs twitch or jerk every 20 to 40 seconds. Each movement lasts between half a second to five seconds and can involve the big toe, ankle, knee, and sometimes the hip, as well as jerking of the arms. Most jerking movements cause a brief awakening, as if every time you fell asleep, someone shook you just enough to wake you again. PLMD can cause poor sleep, which may lead to sleep maintenance insomnia and/or excessive daytime sleepiness.
Narcolepsy is a neurological disorder caused by the brain's inability to regulate sleep-wake cycles normally. Narcolepsy can cause a person to suddenly fall asleep during the day. These “sleep attacks” occur even after getting enough sleep at night. The unusual sleep pattern that people with narcolepsy have can affect their schooling, work, and social life.
Signs of Sleep Apnea or Sleep Disturbed Breathing
excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS)