Many people have problems sleeping. In today’s world there are lots of stressors that can cause us to lie awake at night and just worry. But at least these kinds of sleep problems are pretty much out in the open and can be dealt with in a straight forward manner.
But many people suffer from another type of sleeping disorder that hides itself so well the sufferers themselves may not even be aware they have a problem. That sleeping disorder is sleep apnea, or more specifically, Obstructive Sleep Apnea (or OSA). And if you suffer from it, you need to know the symptoms so you can identify it and do something about it. But first, a brief description.
The term “apnea” quite literally means a temporary interruption in breathing. Sleep apnea is the term used to describe the series of breathing interruptions that happen during the night to certain people. These people experience a temporary blockage in their airways periodically throughout the night and their breathing stops.
The blockage is usually caused by their own soft throat tissue relaxing too much, in on itself. Each blockage lasts for several seconds until the body wakes up just enough to clear the blockage. But soon after, the syndrome reoccurs and the sleep apnea sufferer cycles through episode after episode and ends up with a terrible night’s sleep.
Since this happens while the person is asleep and since they may never fully wake up during one of these episodes, they may be absolutely unaware that it’s even happening – that’s why understanding what the symptoms of sleep apnea are is so important.
Chronic snoring can be a tell-tale sign of sleep apnea. It isn’t a tried-and-true symptom in every case, but most people with OSA tend to snore. If you sleep alone, you may be unaware if you snore, but if you have a sleep partner, it’s pretty much a foregone conclusion that they know. They may also know that you stop breathing periodically during the night. And if that’s the case, you should speak to your doctor about it right away. He or she may set you up with certain CPAP supplies and start you on a specific therapy path.
If you’re not lucky enough to have a witness to your sleeping habits, you’ll have to be more mindful of certain other waking behaviors you may exhibit.
For instance, do you have trouble concentrating during the day? Has it been getting progressively worse over time? Again, lack of focus or cognition doesn’t necessarily mean you’re suffering from sleep apnea, but if you can’t find another good reason for it to be happening, maybe it is sleep apnea related. If your personal life is pretty much normal, if you’re coping with the usual amounts of stress in the usual ways, and if you’re going to bed at a normal, reasonable hour and still you’re having focus problems, you might just have sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea doesn’t just mean a poor night’s sleep and a bad day at the office. When it goes on long-term without treatment it can lead to serious health issues like congestive heart failure. So take a close look at your behaviors and habits, and if you believe you have sleep apnea, start a conversation with your doctor. You’ll be glad you did.