Sleep is very important. Our bodies need this down time to rest and rejuvenate itself. Many physical and mental problems can develop if you do not get enough sleep or if you have problems sleeping.
One of the biggest sleep problems is sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a condition that actually causes you to stop breathing at night. A person can be affected with this condition and be unaware that this is happening to them. This person can even stop breathing hundreds of times a night and not know it.
It is estimated that 12 million people in the United States have sleep apnea. Of that 12 million people, only about ten percent of them may even realize they have it. Actually, it is usually the people around them that notices that something is wrong first.
The main symptom of sleep apnea is loud snoring. But not everyone who snores has sleep apnea. Yet, for those who do snore they need to look at some of the other symptoms. Do you awake feeling unrested? Do you awake often with headaches? Do you feel tired throughout the day? Do you feel grumpy or depressed? These along with loud snoring are indicators that something can be wrong.
The cause of sleep apnea is an obstruction in one’s airway. This is why they stop breathing. Many factors can cause this obstruction. Some of those factors are: Obesity, especially in the neck area, age (men and women over the age of 30 are more likely to develop it), irregular sleep schedules, enlarged tonsils or adenoids, smoking or being around second hand smoke, nasal congestion or blockage, family history and other disorders such as hypothyroidism and Down Syndrome.
What should you do if you suspect you have sleep apnea? You should consult your regular doctor. He/she can get you in touch with a sleep clinic. At the clinic tests can be conducted while you sleep to determine if you have sleep apnea and how often you do stop breathing if you have it. If you do not think you can sleep at a sleep clinic, you should still go and talk to the specialists there. They may be able to arrange for testing to be done on you at home through the use of monitors.
What can be done if you have sleep apnea? Medications are not given. There are none that can help. The best form of treatment is a medical device called continuous positive airway pressure. This is a machine that connects to your face or nose and pushes pressurized air into your nose. This will stop the sleep apnea from occurring. This is the best method of treatment. Yes, the device may make you look funny. But you will sleep better and ultimately begin to feel better.
If dental problems are the source of your sleep apnea than sometimes dental devices worn at bedtime are also useful, especially devices that adjusts your lower jaw helping air to get into your mouth.
Surgery is another option. But be warned surgery is usually only about 50 percent effective. The medical devises are 100 percent effected.
Are there any other treatments? You could try some self help treatments if your sleep apnea isn’t that bad. Such things as: keeping a regular sleep routine, sleeping on your side instead of your back, staying away from alcohol and loosing weight may help.
But remember the definition of sleep apnea is that you stop breathing. Take this matter seriously.