Do you frequently fall asleep during the day?
Are you tired all the time, even when you get a good night’s sleep?
Have others noticed that you snore or make choking noises when you sleep?
If you answered yes to any of those questions, you might have sleep apnea.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Apnea is a medical term that refers to a pause in breathing. Those who suffer with sleep apnea stop breathing 10 to 60 times every hour and those stoppages can last between 10 to 20 seconds.
Sleep apnea is characterized by the upper airways closing off during sleep, causing a brief interruption of breathing and, often, loud snoring. Frequently waking up at night from lack of oxygen can rob you of restful sleep and leave you feeling sluggish, inattentive, and forgetful throughout the day.
Sleep apnea costs the U.S. economy $87 billion a year. Common symptoms include:
• Loud snoring with snorts or gasps
• Periods of not breathing during sleep
• Morning tiredness and/or headaches
• Significant daytime drowsiness
• Attention and/or memory problems
• Mood issues and irritability
What’s particularly harmful about sleep apnea is that when air can’t reach the lungs, it also can’t circulate to the rest of the body, including the brain. Chronic lack of sleep is a serious condition that can lead to an irreversible loss of brain cells. If you have sleep apnea, you could be starving your brain of oxygen and not even know it.
Sleep Apnea Stats:
Sleep apnea affects between 12 to 18 million Americans every year. Sleep apnea doubles your risk for having a stroke and triples your risk of dementia and depression. People who are obese have four times the risk of developing sleep apnea than people who are a normal weight. And sorry guys, men are twice as likely to have sleep apnea as women.
Long-term complications of sleep apnea can include an increased risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity, and memory problems. Sleep problems also increase your risk of developing psychiatric disorders. Chronic sleep loss can lead to car accidents, poor job performance, low grades in school and higher susceptibility to other mental and physical conditions.
Since missing out on sleep can have a devastating impact on your life, here are 5 ways to avoid the dangers of sleep apnea:
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Being overweight increases your chances of developing sleep apnea since fat deposits around the upper airway can obstruct the natural breathing process. One of the best ways to maintain a healthy weight is to eat a diet high in fiber and healthy fats. Also, using adaptogen herbs, such as ginseng and Rhodiola, can help with conditions that lead to weight gain (like thyroid issues, leaky gut and cellular toxicity).
Humidify Your Room
Sleeping with a humidifier in the room has been known to decrease snoring and congestion. Using essential oils in a humidifier, such as eucalyptus oil (which is an active ingredient in Vicks VapoRub), can help to open nasal passages and improve breathing while you sleep.
Don’t drink any caffeinated beverages and avoid chocolate, nicotine, and alcohol in the late afternoon and evening. One reason why people get lower-quality sleep after drinking alcohol is that it blocks REM sleep, which is often considered the most restorative type of sleep. With less REM sleep, you’re likely to wake up feeling groggy and unfocused.
Don’t Take Naps
Taking naps is one of the biggest mistakes you can make if you have trouble sleeping. Daytime naps will disrupt your nighttime sleep cycle.
Adjust Your Sleep Position
Sleeping on your back tends to make snoring worse because the tongue slides toward the back of the throat. Sleeping on your side with a pillow that keeps your head slightly elevated is usually recommended to reduce snoring and the symptoms of sleep apnea.
If you aren’t getting enough sleep, or if you’re not feeling refreshed after sleeping, Amen Clinics can help. Our goal is to help you achieve and maintain peaceful sleep without the use of sleeping pills or sedatives. One of the best ways we can improve the quality of your sleep is with brain SPECT imaging.
If you or someone you know is struggling with the effects of sleep apnea, find out how we can help improve the quality of your sleep. Call us today at 888-288-9834 or visit us online to schedule a visit.