Do you struggle to sleep well? Do you have trouble remembering the last time you woke up feeling refreshed from sleep, or is your snoring driving your partner crazy – or worse, driving them out of the bedroom altogether?
You might be one of the estimated 12 to 18 million people – in the US alone! – who suffer from a chronic sleep disorder such as sleep apnea. You’ve probably heard the term, or maybe even know someone who has been diagnosed with the condition. But what is it exactly? According to the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research (NCSDR), sleep apnea is a condition in which you experience breathing “pauses” when you sleep. These can last between just a few seconds, to a terrifying few minutes (try holding your breath for a few minutes and you’ll understand why this is a scary idea). After such an event your body’s natural instinct to keep you alive will kick in, meaning you’ll take a breath, but it might sound more like a choking sound.
Symptoms can vary between people, and you can be diagnosed from mild to very severe sleep apnea. However there are a number of general symptoms that doctors keep an eye out for when considering a sleep apnea diagnosis.
- Trouble breathing during sleep
- General fatigue, ranging from sleepiness during the day right up to falling asleep while socializing or driving the car
- Lack of focus and concentration
- Morning headaches
- Getting up frequently to use the bathroom at night
While in the past sleep apnea was seen as mostly a condition that affected older, heavier men, we know today that sleep apnea can affect a range of people – from children, women of all ages and young men. Symptoms vary between people (for example, not everyone with sleep apnea snores), and you can be diagnosed from a mild to very severe form of the condition. Even in fairly mild cases, if sleep apnea is left untreated it can lead to a number of nasty side effects, including weight gain (even obesity), an increase in the risk of heart attacks and heart failure, strokes, diabetes and high blood pressure. Ultimately, if you feel you may be a candidate for sleep apnea, or know someone you may suffer from the condition, it is very important to get tested by a sleep specialist as soon as possible.
Surviving Sleep Apnea is designed to give you the very latest in news, information and research on sleep apnea and its treatments. The site also features blogs from Sean Kaye, who was diagnosed with moderate to severe sleep apnea this year. Follow his journey as he shares his thoughts about the condition and reviews the latest in CPAP machines and related equipment.