Sleep apnea, a condition that affects over 18 million people in just the US alone, is defined as a temporary suspension of breathing that occurs repeatedly during sleep. It is usually accompanied by heavy snoring. Essentially, it occurs when the throat briefly collapses or becomes restricted, thus causing pauses in your breathing. With pauses in breathing, the oxygen level in your blood may drop.
Primary causes include:
- Your throat muscles and tongue relax more than is normal.
- Your tonsils and adenoids are large.
- You are overweight. The extra soft tissue in your throat makes it harder to keep the throat area open. (As a side note, sleep apnea is 10 times more prevalent in NFL linemen than in the general population.)
- The shape of your head and neck results in somewhat smaller airway size in the mouth and throat area.
Side effects can include:
- loud snoring
- morning headaches
- poor quality sleep
- a dry mouth upon awakening
- high blood pressure
- increased risk of heart attack
- increased risk of stroke
- increased risk of having an automobile accident
- weight gain
- change in personality
- difficulty concentrating
- excessive perspiring during sleep
- reduced libido
- frequent nighttime urination
- restless sleep
- nocturnal snorting, gasping, choking (may wake self up)
- rapid weight gain
- confusion upon awakening
Bottom line: it is serious and can even be life threatening. It also tends to get progressively worse as you age and should not be taken lightly. There are many medical options, but they involve invasive or pharmaceutical options. If nothing else works for you, they can certainly be used. However, there are a number of options that exist that do a better job of actually getting rid of the underlying condition – a much better option.
- Lose weight.
- Sleep on your side.
- Use special pillows to optimize the opening of the throat.
- Don’t drink or use sleep medications which overly relax the throat.
- Get rid of allergies, which increase the restriction of the throat.
- Do exercises to improve throat tissue tone. (One of the best is the yoga lion pose.)
- Chiropractic and acupuncture treatments may also be helpful.
- There are oral mouth devices (that help keep the airway open) on the market that may help to reduce snoring in three different ways.
- Bring the jaw forward.
- Elevate the soft palate.
- Hold the tongue so it can’t fall back in the airway and block breathing.
- Use a good antioxidant formula that contains bio-available SOD to minimize the damage caused by apnea.
Note: Central apnea is a rare type of sleep apnea that happens when the area of your brain that controls your breathing doesn’t send the correct signals to the breathing muscles. Then there is no effort to breathe at all for brief periods. Snoring does not typically occur in central apnea. Treatment of central apnea involves identifying and treating the underlying cause. If there is actual neurological damage resulting from things such as polio or encephalitis, for example, you may have to use medications to stimulate breathing.
I wonder whether there is no
I wonder whether there is no real cure for this. I know a person who does not fit ANY of the mentioned cause-criteria, therefore I wonder whether this can be the entire story. Personally, I snore when I get dehydrated. It does not matter whether I sleep on my back or side or with a special pillow. When properly dehydrated I do not snore at all no matter what position I manage to slep in. Has anyone else experienced anything similar? There must be a more simple explanation than the one prestented from the medical establishment… Thanks in advance for any hints or tips Frank
As a sufferer of Sleep Apnea, and fit a number of the points above. I can affirm how debilitating the condition can be.
Having had a number of occassions where I have fallen asleep whilst either driving, in a meeting etc. Plus suffering from very severe depression.
I had two operations too attempt to correct the potential restriction to my airways, unfortunately neither worked. The first operation was to widen my nasal pasages, the second was an uvalectomy (spelling may be incorrect) where they took my uvala away completely.
As the operations did not work I sourced advise from another hospital. I wish I had gone to them first, they advised that the operations I had were not required.
They offered me the use of a CPAP machine, and wow I never felt beter in my life. Having to wear a mask whilst asleep took a while to get used to and the sex life suffers a bit. You cannot get to amorous wearing a mask. It is nevertheless the best thing going.
I even look forward to sleeping now.
Since being diagnosed with sleep apnea some fifteen years ago, I have used a CPAP machine every single night. It has allowed me to enjoy a blessedly sound sleep and enter into a nightly REM pattern that without the machine I could not achieve …. which meant no dreams! A lack of ability to dream is said to negatively effect one’s mental health.
After experimenting with several types of masks, I settled on my present nose pillow arrangement. Quite comfortable for long term usage. Thus, my sleep apnea problem seems to be satisfactorily resolved with the CPAP.
However, although I’ve searched the literature for years now I can find nothing about how this nightly forced air breathing might cause a continuing sinus problem. Possibly due to the inflow of cool air, the mucus membranes seem to be working overtime …. day in and day out! I have even tried passing the air through warmed water, but it didn’t appear to work very well.
Does anyone else have this kind of experience? And if so, how do you alleviate the problem.
I also find myself wondering if this forced air breathing has an effect similar to yogic breathing, which would turn what is a nightly nuisance into a positive experience.
I do wonder about the lion
I do wonder about the lion pose. Have you seen that I strengthens the throat. I hate CPAP, I am losing sleep and feel I am decomposing blessed be ella
Thank you for helpful
Thank you for helpful comments about sleep. I am 72 and have had progressive difficulty over the years sleeping more than four hours at the beginning of each night. Sometimes only three and a half. Being retired I am happy to get up after my first cycle and use the time productively but need to go back to sleep as the next sleep cycle comes around. When I was working, I had great difficulty getting through the afternoons without a proper nap. A problem I cannot seem to budge is that I wake up with palpitations which range from half an hour to several times longer. I tried having extensive heart tests which all proved normal but no conclusions could be drawn. I was interested in the comment made by Tony about excessive mucus, day and night as this has been my experience for some years. I haven’t heard of a CPAP machine. Thank you for these useful reports.