Sleep Apnea and Proper Sleep: A Condition That Can Affect Your Overall Health

Sleep Apnea Disturbs Sleep

Sleep Apnea is a very serious and dangerous sleeping disorder that can seriously change your sleeping habits. Every component of your body relies on sleep to function properly. In order to be healthy, you have to get enough quality sleep to support the demands of your body. The hours spent sleeping are meant to repair and improve the body. When sleeping needs are not met, damage to the body is not repaired and the body can not become stronger.

  • Arousals: During an episode of Obstructive Sleep Apnea, the breathing functions become disrupted because there is a physical blockage of the airway. When the passage of the upper airway becomes blocked, and no new oxygen is being introduced into the body, the body puts forth more effort to inhale. The lungs try so hard to ingest oxygen that a strong suction is created in the upper airway. When the suction is strong enough, the collapsible tissue that supports the airway collapses. When blood oxygen levels fall low enough, the brain responds to the lowered levels by waking the sleeper up so they can open their air passage and retighten the muscles in the upper airway. OSA sufferers may wake up choking, snorting, or gasping for breath before normal breathing patterns return. In patients with severe Sleep Apnea, this can happen more than one hundred times during the night. The body’s constant struggle to maintain respiratory function makes it almost impossible to get a quality night of quantity sleep.
  • Falling Asleep: Frequent arousals all night long will give an apnea victim daytime sleepiness and fatigue. Extreme fatigue during the day can lead to sudden needs to nap during the day. In some cases, the patient will not even comprehend the need to sleep before the fall unconscious. Suddenly falling asleep during the day is not only dangerous to your health and the health of those around you, it also starts a vicious cycle of napping. Healthy sleeping habits are sleeping habits that take place at night. Napping during the day can lead to trouble falling asleep and staying asleep at night…leading to more napping the next day.
  • Snoring: When the muscles in the back of the mouth and the throat sag in OSA patients, snoring often follows. Snoring can cause pain and discomfort in the throat, inflammation of tissue in the throat, and it can wake you up out of a dead sleep. Snoring is a more disturbing issue for the people who sleep around you than they are to you.

Understanding Your Sleep Needs

Despite the common misconception that a good night of sleep lasts eight hours, sleeping experts are quick to tell you that there is no exact time frame for getting the perfect night’s sleep. A lot of different factors contribute to the amount of sleep each individual needs; they can be as simple as gender and age, or as complicated as family medical history and geographical location.

  • The Two Main Factors: There are two main ways of categorizing the human need for sleep. Essentially, our have two separate sleeping needs.
    • Basal Sleep Need: The basal sleep need of a person is amount of sleep that their body needs to perform its intended level. When a sleeper is only meeting their basal sleep needs, they are functioning appropriately, but they are probably not experiencing an excess amount of energy or concentration. Some medical studies suggest that most fully grown adults can meet their basal needs with seven to eight hours of sleep a night, but there is no concrete conclusion.
    • Sleep Debt: Meeting the basal sleep need alone is not going to be efficient enough to ensure proper long-term functioning of the body if the body has a high sleep debt. All of the hours of sleep that are lost at night because of activities during the day accumulate and produce an individual’s sleep debt. Even if you meet the basal need every night, you may still feel sleepy during waking hours because you have not resolved your debt. Having a notable sleep debt will make you more tired than normal during circadian dips- the natural day-long energy cycles regulated by the body’s biological clock. People with a significant sleep debt are can become extremely tired in the mid-afternoon, shortly before bed time, or when they wake up in the morning.
  • Age: The basal sleep need, required amount of sleep, varies among different age groups. The most sleep is needed in the first month of life, almost twenty hours. By the time a child is a toddler, they only need around twelve or thirteen. The number drops to ten hours a night in elementary-aged children. Teenagers need between eight and ten hours of sleep a night, and fully developed adults need between seven and nine hours.
  • Question Habits: When you have Sleep Apnea, it is important to constantly be aware of how you’re feeling, and what you may be doing to contribute to your apnea. Take note of how you feel each morning, and how much sleep you got the night before. Ask yourself how many times you woke up during the night, and how long you were awake. What was your focus like during the day? Your appetite? Did you have problems remembering things? Did you drink caffeine? Did you exercise? Did you nap? Did you want to?

Tips for Getting Proper Sleep

  • Stick to a Schedule: Just like any other treatment for Sleep Apnea, consistency is vital for success. Make a strict sleeping schedule for yourself, and stick to it no matter what. It may be difficult to fall asleep or wake up at your scheduled time when you first begin, but the longer you stick to the schedule, the easier you’ll adapt. The body will eventually begin to train itself and mold to fit the schedule.
  • Listen to Biological Clock: Listen to the biological clock ticking deep within your body; it’s the best way to know when to go to sleep. The biological clock is most strongly governed by the natural pattern of daylight and darkness.
  • Create a Bedtime Routine: Develop a very specific routine for the last hour before bed. Make the activities relaxing, but do them every night. Your muscle memory will adapt the routine and tune itself to wind down after. Taking a relaxing shower or bath before bed can help relax an apnea sufferer. Breathing exercises are also a good way to relax into sleep.
  • Don’t Eat Before Bed: Don’t eat anything 2-3 hours before you go to sleep.
  • Conducive Environment: Make your bedroom the perfect environment. A cool, quiet, dark room is the best environment for quality sleep.
  • Only Use Bed for Sleep: Don’t use your bed for anything but sleeping. If you lie around and watch TV in your bed all day, it’s hard for your brain to recognize that it’s time to go to bed.
  • Exercise Regularly: Cardio workouts in the early morning are perfect for Sleep Apnea victims. Not only will the workout help protect the heart against the dangers of apneas, it will give the patient energy during the day, and help tire them out for the evening.
  • Avoid:
    • Caffeine
    • Sedatives
    • Alcohol
    • Smoking
    • Uncomfortable Sleeping Surfaces
    • Inconsistency

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