Stealing Your Slumber: The Top Signs for Sleep Apnea and What You Can Do
While 18 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea, only 20% are diagnosed. That means only 20% are being treated.
Sleep apnea can seriously harm your body without the right care. The best way to keep your body healthy is to be aware of the signs for sleep apnea. The earlier you’re diagnosed, the sooner you receive treatment.
What Is Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea is a disorder that interrupts your breathing while you sleep. One in five adults experiences mild obstructive sleep apnea while one in fifteen adults have severe symptoms.
For those with obstructive sleep apnea, throat muscles cannot keep airways open while they rest. This blocks airways and prevents a person from breathing. It’s the most common form of sleep apnea.
Central sleep apnea stems from issues in your central nervous system. It fails to signal your brain to breathe.
Both forms of sleep apnea lead to restless nights. People constantly wake up to breathe. This leads to chronic daytime fatigue.
Signs for Sleep Apnea
Signs for sleep apnea include loud snoring, fatigue, headaches, and dry mouth. They vary from person to person depending on the severity and type of sleep apnea.
Obstructive sleep apnea causes loud and frequent snoring. As your airways become blocked, our bodies resort to snoring to function.
Snoring isn’t uncommon. In fact, 25% of Americans snore. The difference between normal snoring and sleep apnea is the type of sounds a person makes.
Sleep apnea causes loud snoring. When the airways are blocked and your body struggles to breathe, a person produces choking noises. These are not normal snoring sounds and should be treated with proper devices.
If your body has trouble breathing throughout the night, you’re going to wake up. The interruptions may be so brief you don’t remember them the next morning. Your partner may notice your sleep interruptions more than you.
Constantly feeling tired is a top sign for sleep apnea. If your body cannot sleep soundly during the night, it won’t receive the proper amount of rest. This leads to daytime fatigue and drowsiness.
People with sleep apnea are more likely to nap or fall asleep within seconds of lying down.
You may have difficulty staying awake at work or while driving. Sleep deprivation causes irritability, moodiness, and depression. It leads to memory issues and makes it difficult to concentrate.
A blistering headache is not how you want to start your day. If you suffer from chronic morning headaches, it’s likely due to sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea obstructs your airways. This limits oxygen to your brain. After a night of reduced oxygen levels, a headache forms.
In addition to headaches, reduced oxygen flow increases your risk of heart disease, strokes, and high blood pressure.
Dry mouth forms due to blocked nasal passages. This causes a person to sleep with their mouth open. If you wake up with a dry mouth every morning, you may be suffering from sleep apnea.
Acid reflux throughout the night is one of the top signs for sleep apnea. The disorder blocks your lower esophageal sphincter from allowing your stomach’s contents from reaching your esophagus.
Throughout the night, the negative pressure causes heartburn and acid reflux. It can also lead to coughing and choking fits. If you experience any of these, it may be due to sleep apnea.
A good night’s rest is the foundation of a healthy mind and body. Sleep apnea causes sleep deprivation and is linked to depression.
Warning signs of depression include:
- Feeling lost and hopeless
- Low energy levels
- Loss of interest in activities
- Overwhelming feelings of guilt
In addition to depression, people with sleep apnea may experience panic attacks and anxiety.
Nocturia causes you to wake up throughout the night to use the bathroom. It’s one of the most disruptive signs for sleep apnea. Over 84% of sleep apnea patients report frequent nighttime bathroom trips.
Throat relaxation sets off a chain of events. It lowers oxygen, increases carbon dioxide, and makes your blood more acidic. Your body wakes up because it’s not functioning correctly.
By the time you wake up, your heart has sent a false signal to your brain of fluid overload. This makes the person get up and use the bathroom.
Most people who treat their sleep apnea find their nocturia is also resolved.
Certain factors increase your chance of sleep apnea. Those at high risk of the disorder should be aware of signs for sleep apnea. Early diagnosis and treatments are essential for a healthy body.
A family history of sleep apnea and snoring increases your risk of the disorder. If you have family members with sleep apnea, you should be extra alert for sleep apnea symptoms.
Two-thirds of people with obstructive sleep apnea are overweight or obese. This is due to fat deposits in your upper airway obstructing your breathing.
To lower your risk of sleep apnea, shed the extra pounds. Maintain a healthier lifestyle by incorporating healthy foods and exercise into your routine. In addition to lowering your risk of sleep apnea, a healthy weight reduces joint pain and helps you sleep better at night.
Gender and Age
Men are twice as likely to show signs for sleep apnea than women.
It’s unknown why men are more likely to experience the sleep disorder. Researchers believe pathophysiological differences in our bodies are to blame. These include:
- Higher weight levels in males
- Differences in upper airway anatomy
- Breathing controls in women vs men
- Male hormone levels vs female hormone levels
Sleep apnea can be diagnosed in people of all ages, but people over 40 are more likely to have it. Therefore as you age, your risk of the disorder increases. It’s also more common in black and Hispanic populations.
Sleeping on Your Back
Sleeping on your back is the worst position for sleep apnea. Gravity increases pressure on the jaw. It makes your tongue drop back towards your throat and causes breathing difficulties.
Unhealthy lifestyle habits contribute to sleep apnea. The more of these habits you engage in, the more likely you’ll develop sleep apnea.
Smokers are three times more likely to suffer obstructive sleep apnea than non-smokers. Puffing on a cigarette causes inflammation in your airways. It leads to fluid retention and nighttime breathing difficulties
The more alcohol you drink, the higher your risk for sleep apnea. Alcohol relaxes throat muscles. This worsens obstructive sleep apnea and interrupts your sleep.
A lack of exercise and movement during the day raises your sleep apnea risk. Physical activities promote oxygen flow through your body and help you relax at night. Keep sleep apnea away with healthy amounts of movement during the day.
Studies show people with certain physical characteristics have a higher risk of sleep apnea.
These physical attributes include:
- Enlarged tonsils or adenoids
- Recessed chin
- Large overbite
- Wide neck circumference
In addition, ailments like chronic sinusitis and Down syndrome also have a heightened risk of developing sleep apnea.
How Sleep Apnea Affects Your Body
Sleep apnea affects your mental and physical wellbeing. That’s why knowing signs for sleep apnea and receiving proper treatment is essential to your health.
Your Mental Health and Sleep Apnea
Sleep deprivation impairs your mind. Your brain needs a good night’s sleep to stay healthy. Without proper sleep, people notice severe functional problems.
Sleep apnea causes you to feel:
Lack of sleep leads to cognitive problems. Daytime drowsiness increases your risk of an automotive accident and puts your life at risk.
Your Physical Health and Sleep Apnea
Signs for sleep apnea center on physical health impairments. It raises your risk of developing:
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- Cardiovascular ailments (heart attacks and heart failure)
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Liver failure
- High cholesterol
- Adult asthma
- Acid reflux
- Decreased sexual drive
Sleep apnea causes sudden drops in oxygen. This increases blood pressure and makes your cardiovascular system work extra hard. It raises your risk of hypertension and heart attacks.
Sleep apnea increases your risk of developing resistance to insulin. This makes you more susceptible to developing type 2 diabetes.
If you suffer from sleep apnea, you should not undergo intensive surgery. It causes complications while people are sedated and lying on their backs.
Don’t forget about your how sleep apnea affects your partner. If you share a room or bed with another person, they’re going to be kept awake with your loud snoring. This leads to relationship problems.
Sleep Apnea Prevention
Keep your body in tip-top shape and prevent sleep apnea from impairing your health.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Want to avoid sleep apnea? Keep a healthy weight. Obesity increases your risk of sleep apnea.
Maintain a healthy diet and regulate food portions. Manage your stress. Stay active to burn extra calories.
All of these healthy lifestyle adjustments lead to lower weight on the scale. Signs for sleep apnea increase with weight gain. Shedding a few pounds prevents the disorder from interrupting your slumber.
Stick to an exercise plan to keep your body moving and the blood flowing. This helps you sleep better and longer throughout the night. Exercise will also help you maintain a healthy weight, lowering your risk of sleep apnea.
Try aerobic and resistance workouts to reduce sleep apnea symptoms. Incorporate yoga to strengthen your airways and help your body breathe better.
Maintaining a well-balanced diet boosts your health and lowers your risk of sleep apnea. There are certain foods you should eat and certain foods you should avoid to decrease sleep apnea symptoms.
If you have or are trying to avoid sleep apnea, try eating:
- Fruits and vegetables that are rich in fiber
- Low-fat dairy products full of vitamin D
- Plant-based oils like olive oil and sunflower oil
- Whole grain foods high in fiber, such as brown rice
If you want to lower your risk of sleep apnea, be sure to avoid:
- Bananas: they increase mucus production
- Fatty meats: they lead to weight gain and disrupt sleep
- High-fat dairy products: these cause weight gain and mucus production
- Refined carbohydrates: they’re high in sugar and keep you awake at night
Food is the best medicine for preventing chronic medical concerns. Eat the right foods to sleep better and cut out the unhealthy items.
Quit Toxic Habits
Stop smoking if you’re a smoker. Limit your alcohol intake or cut alcohol out of your life completely. Stop eating late-night meals.
Change Your Sleeping Position
Prevent sleep apnea by sleeping on your side. This makes airways are more stable and less likely to collapse. Sleeping on your side allows for maximum airflow and lowers your risk of sleep apnea.
If sleeping on your back is a habit you just can’t break, try using products like the Smart Nora that automatically adjusts your head and neck position. This improves breathing and lessens snoring. You can also try using snoring mouthpieces as an extra sleeping aid.
Adopt Better Bedtime Habits
Nighttime habits affect how you sleep and reduce sleep apnea symptoms. Those who receive lower amounts of sleep are prone to developing the disorder. Keep your body healthy by getting the right amount of sleep for your age.
Stick to a sleep schedule to enhance your slumber. Try going to bed at the same time every night to get your body into a better routine.
Don’t eat a large meal before bed. Limit your caffeine and alcohol intake in the evening.
Limit screen use prior to hitting the hay. Blue light from phones, laptops, and tablets interrupt our sleep. Instead, try reading or writing in a journal before bed.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea and Their Solutions
If you know the signs for sleep apnea, then you know when it’s time to seek help. Treatments are available to help patients find relief and sleep better.
Snoring mouthpieces and sleep devices are some of the most trusted ways to relieve sleep apnea symptoms. They promote better airflow so you sleep soundly every night.
If you’re experiencing sleep apnea, contact us to learn more about our snoring devices. We have the products your body needs to get a good night’s sleep.
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