By Taazakhabar News Bureau
Studies show that untreated sleep problems, especially sleep apnea, a common sleep disorder in which a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep can increase the risk of obesity, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes.
People suffering from sleep apnea may feel drowsy or excessively tired during the day. They may switch over from deep sleep to light sleep — each time their breathing pauses or becomes shallow for 10 seconds or more and repeatedly throughout the night. As they struggle to breathe, people with sleep apnea will remain partially awake and in the morning may not be aware of the disturbances in their sleep. Sleep apnea is more likely to occur in men who are overweight or obese. Night shift workers may also experience this problem.
But the irony is that many people are not even aware of their symptoms and undiagnosed.
The most common type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), caused by relaxation of soft tissue in the back of the throat that blocks the passage of air. Central sleep apnea (CSA) is caused by irregularities in the brain’s normal signals to breathe. Most people with sleep apnea will have a combination of both types.
The hallmark symptom of the disorder is excessive daytime sleepiness. Additional symptoms of sleep apnea include restless sleep, loud snoring (with periods of silence followed by gasps), falling asleep during the day, morning headaches, trouble concentrating, irritability, forgetfulness, mood or behavior changes, anxiety, and depression. Everyone with these symptoms may not have sleep apnea, but those who are experiencing even a few of these symptoms should consult their doctor.
The treatment for sleep apnea depends on the individual’s medical history and severity of the disorder. It invariable requires lifestyle changes, live avoiding alcohol and medications like sedatives and muscle relaxants that relax the central nervous system, losing weight, and stop smoking.
Some people may require special pillows or devices that keep them from sleeping on their backs, or oral appliances to keep the airway open during sleep.
If none of these methods work, doctors may recommend continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) — a face mask attached to a tube and a machine that blows pressurized air into the mask to keep the airway open.
Some of the other machines include the variable positive airway pressure (VPAP) and automatic positive airway pressure (APAP).
However, in some cases, surgical procedure might be used to remove tissue and widen the airway. Some individuals may need a combination of therapies to successfully treat their sleep apnea.
Untreated, sleep apnea can be life threatening. Excessive daytime sleepiness can cause people to fall asleep at inappropriate times, such as while driving. Sleep apnea also appears to put individuals at risk for stroke and transient ischemic attacks (TIAs, also known as “mini-strokes”), and is associated with coronary heart disease, heart failure, irregular heartbeat, heart attack, and high blood pressure.
Although there is no cure for sleep apnea, recent studies show that successful treatment can reduce the risk of heart and blood pressure problems.
The focus of research at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is to find better ways to prevent, treat, and ultimately cure sleep disorders.