Sleep apnea is an incredibly common medical condition affecting millions of people. A person with sleep apnea stops breathing while sleeping, interrupting the deep slow-wave sleep they are experiencing. It can be due to a number of factors; high blood pressure, heart failure, tumors, clogged airways, or the narrowing of the airway as a result of some other ailment.
Unfortunately, the fact that they’re hard to spot can make it harder for people to know when they’ve got the condition. The person may not be aware of what’s going on and may find themselves waking up from their sleep, sometimes many times a night, due to a restless night’s sleep. The difficulty may be related to snoring or loud snoring.
There are several types of sleep apnea, obstructive and central, but all can result in a person waking during the night due to a lack of restful sleep. It can occur in both adults and children, but there are a few different problems that may cause it to happen. Some of the reasons for the sleeping condition include:
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) – When the tissues in the throat are relaxed during sleep and stop the normal flow of air, resulting in an interruption of the deep slow-wave sleep. This is when a person feels tired and sleepy in the morning. With this type of sleep apnea, the person is unaware that they are even having a sleep problem.
- Central Sleep Apnea (CSA) – With central sleep apnea, the person is conscious that they are snoring and finds that they have trouble getting the proper rest at night. It results in loud snoring and has an interruption of the deep slow-wave sleep they are having. They may wake up many times during the night due to having a restless sleep.
- Central Rhythmic Sleep Apnea (CRSA) – In this type of sleep apnea, the person is aware that they are suffering from a sleeping problem. They may start to feel sleepy during the day and find that they have trouble getting enough rest. These people might also wake up many times during the night due to their sleep deprivation.
- Persistent Restless Legs Syndrome (PRLS) – Many people have trouble getting enough sleep due to this persistent sleep disorder. As a result, they wake up each day feeling refreshed and feel sluggish. PRLS can occur due to several factors. It can be caused by a tumor that blocks the airway, is caused by a recent illness, or can be caused by changes in lifestyle or habits such as overuse of alcohol or drugs.
Although people with sleep apnea are generally unaware of their condition, sleepiness during the morning hours often indicates the presence of this sleep disorder. Another symptom that can occur is waking up several times during the night due to tiredness, fatigue, or anxiety.
There are several different sleep apnea treatment options available, including a continuous positive airway pressure machine (CPAP machine). A CPAP machine is attached to the patient’s nose and flows pressurized air into the lungs throughout the night to keep them comfortable. The patient wears a mask throughout the night, in which the CPAP machine is attached, to prevent the airway from becoming blocked.
For some people, using a CPAP machine is just too uncomfortable and they just can’t get comfortable enough to use the device. In some cases dental treatments and or minor surgeries are needed to help with sleep apnea.
It’s a good idea to consult your doctor before you try any type of sleep apnea treatment because they may suggest one or the other. If you find that sleep apnea is occurring frequently, and you are affected by the symptoms described above, you should get a thorough examination by your doctor to rule out other possible causes.