While men are more likely to suffer from sleep apnea, both men and women can suffer from sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is a condition that actually causes you to stop breathing, usually for anywhere from 10 to 40 seconds at a time. However, some sleep apnea sufferers have been known to stop breathing for as much as three minutes at a time. And a person with sleep apnea has one of these episodes, called apneas, fifteen times per hour or more. In severe cases, a person with sleep apnea will stop breathing hundreds of times a night, and will wake up gasping for air each time before drifting back to sleep.
Not surprisingly, those with sleep apnea usually don’t get much rest at night. As a result, they suffer from fatigue during waking hours, which can affect every area of their life. They have a hard time focusing and concentrating, as well as staying alert. This fatigue is probably the reason those with sleep apnea are seven times more likely to be involved in vehicular accidents.
Those with sleep apnea often develop high blood pressure. They also have a much higher risk of suffering heart attacks.
Sleep apnea can be caused by many things. The most common cause is a complete or partial blockage (by a large tongue, large tonsils, or excess tissue) of the breathing airway in the nose or throat. Sleep apnea can also be caused by damage to the area of the brain that controls breathing,
Sleep apnea is a serious condition, but many often don’t even realize they have it. Here are some signs that you might have sleep apnea.
- Despite going to bed at a reasonable hour, you are often tired and sleepy during the day. This can be the result of being partially awakened by interruptions in breathing several times during the night.
- You are a snorer. Loud snoring is usually a symptom of sleep apnea. Ask those in your household if they hear your snoring abruptly stop frequently during the night. This could be a sign that your breathing is frequently interrupted, and you have sleep apnea.
- You are overweight. Extra weight is often the cause of the excess tissue that can block airways. The majority of those with sleep apnea are overweight, and it’s not unusual for the condition to vanish when a sleep apnea sufferer loses a few pounds.
- You often wake up with a headache in the morning.
- You have high blood pressure. Those with sleep apnea often develop high blood pressure as a result.
If you believe you have sleep apnea, you should see a doctor. They can help definitively determine whether or not you have sleep apnea. A doctor can also develop a treatment program that will get your sleep apnea under control, and help you enjoy countless nights of peaceful, uninterrupted sleep.