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What are the Causes of Sleep Apnea?

by on February 26th, 2009
What are the Causes of Sleep Apnea?

The term sleep apnea may not be familiar to many people, but its symptoms definitely are. This sleep disorder involves frequent waking up throughout the night, inability to feel rested despite sleeping for eight hours, loud snoring and feeling tired upon waking up in the morning.

These symptoms happen because of the periodic disruptions in your breathing that take place as you sleep. Usually, your breath stops for just a few seconds, but sometimes it can last for about a minute. This will result in a lack of oxygen that triggers your body to wake up and resume breathing. You (and others who have sleep apnea) won’t even remember these sleep disturbances when you wake up, but you will certainly feel some of the effects, such as unexplained tiredness.

Health Risks of Sleep Apnea

It’s easy to see that the most serious health risk of sleep apnea is that you won’t wake up when you stop breathing. There are some instances when a person suffering from sleep apnea is too exhausted that the body fails to wake up, resulting in suffocation. These extreme situations are very rare but still possible.

Another serious health risk of sleep apnea is sleep deprivation. When you are suffering from this condition, you might think that you are getting eight hours of sleep, but you can actually be spending half of it constantly waking up.

What Sleep Apnea Does to Your Sleep Cycle

There are several stages of sleep that we all go through. In order to maximize the benefits of a full night’s rest, you need to be able to sleep continuously. With sleep apnea, this cycle is frequently disrupted and your body will not get the full rest that it needs. This lack of proper sleep can make you feel drowsy all the time, and with extreme conditions, it can even lead to mental and emotional problems.

Not many people will remember waking up all through the night, but its effects on your daily routine will be hard to ignore. Since you won’t know that you wake up frequently, it will be hard for you to tell that you are suffering from the illness. The best way to diagnose your condition is to see a doctor immediately after observing the symptoms of sleep apnea. To verify your suspicions, the doctor will have you examined in a sleep study, where experts will observe your sleep patterns.

Upon confirmation of your condition, your doctor will prescribe the necessary treatment procedures. Usually, this will just involve some changes in your sleeping habits, an improved diet and some special equipment like customized pillows and other sleeping aids. For more serious conditions, you might need to take some medication or even go in for surgery.

As mentioned, very severe cases of sleep apnea are extremely rare. Most conditions can easily be reversed by making a few modifications to your usual routine, which will allow you to sleep more peacefully through the night. Once you are able to do this, you will notice that you feel a lot better upon waking up in the morning.

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