Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that plagues millions of people worldwide, with many cases going undiagnosed and untreated. When you have sleep apnea, you experience pauses in breathing while you sleep. These pauses can last anywhere from 10 seconds, a minute, or even longer before your brain panics and awakens you so you can resume breathing. You may not always notice these awakenings, but they can happen hundreds of times during the night for those who suffer from sleep apnea. Your lack of sleep and interruptions in your sleep cycle results in consequences like daytime sleepiness, morning headaches, and snoring. While you think you may be able to deal with those, there are other, more dangerous effects of untreated sleep apnea, too, like increased risk of stroke, diabetes, and heart disease.
There Are Three Main Types Of Sleep Apnea
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the soft tissues in your airway sag while you’re asleep. The tissues cut off your airway and deprive your body and brain of oxygen. The most common people to suffer from obstructive sleep apnea are adult men, but women and children can have it, too.
Central Sleep Apnea
Central sleep apnea is when your brain stops signaling your muscles to breathe. Central sleep apnea is most common in older, adult men but not exclusively.
Complex Sleep Apnea
Complex sleep apnea is the presence of obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea caused by CPAP treatment of obstructive sleep apnea. The continuous air provided by the machine negates the need for your brain to send breathing signals. Like a skill you don’t practice, your brain will forget this function and stop providing it. People at risk for complex sleep apnea have obstructive sleep apnea and have been using a CPAP for a long time.
What Can Treatment Do?
Regardless of what type of sleep apnea you have, sleep apnea treatments can help. Treating sleep apnea won’t just help you feel less tired during the day—it will improve the health of your whole body.
Reduce Risk of Heart Problems
Sleep apnea has a long history of contributing to heart disease, the leading cause of death in the nation. The disrupted sleep and lack of restoration time that your body and brain need cause your blood pressure to be all-around higher. This blood pressure spike doesn’t just happen at night when you aren’t breathing; it lasts throughout the day. Sleep apnea also increases or causes an irregular heart rate due to frequent pressure changes in your chest, called atrial fibrillation. The combination of these consequences due to sleep apnea increases your risk of hypertension, heart disease, and heart attack. With sleep apnea treatment, your body can resume a regular heart rate and blood pressure, allowing your heart to work the way it’s supposed to. If you have other conditions that increase your risk of heart disease, you mustn’t let sleep apnea increase your risk further. Your body will only benefit from sleep apnea treatment.
Diminish Depression and Anxiety Symptoms
Sleep apnea’s effect on depression and anxiety is two-fold. Sleep apnea can cause depression and anxiety by getting in the way of your living your life, causing worry about apneic episodes, and interfering with the treatment of depression and anxiety. Sleep apnea symptoms like daytime sleepiness, low energy, foul mood, and lack of motivation can mean that you avoid social gatherings, avoid interactions with others, whether it be friends, family, or colleagues, and feel disinterested in your hobbies. This lack of social interaction and enjoyment in life can lead to feelings of inadequacy and unhappiness. Additionally, many people who know they have untreated sleep apnea can feel understandably anxious about its consequences.
On the other side of the spectrum, it can be hard to create new habits and get help for your depression and anxiety if you have sleep apnea. The lack of motivation to seek help, attend your appointments, and do as directed can slow or halt your treatment.
Getting your sleep apnea treated will allow you to get better sleep so you can have the energy to get treatment for mental health problems. Or, in many cases, if your depression and anxiety were purely circumstantial, sleep apnea treatment can eliminate them.
Reduce the Risk of Stroke
Just as the lack of sleep and fragmented sleep place a toll on your heart, they also have adverse effects on your brain. Sleep apnea decreases the blood flow to your brain, and the blood that does make it isn’t rich with oxygen like it’s supposed to be. Additionally, sleep apnea increases pressure in your brain. This decrease in blood flow and increased pressure make it harder for the brain to deter a stroke event. Consequently, if someone died of a stroke related to sleep apnea, it would happen in their sleep.
Yet, a decreased risk of stroke isn’t unattainable. If you treat your sleep apnea, you don’t have to worry about having a stroke in your sleep. You can sleep undeterred nightly and have productive and happy days.
When you breathe, you breathe in oxygen and out carbon dioxide. Your body can’t use carbon dioxide, and too much of it can lead to diabetes. When there is too much carbon dioxide in your blood, this can upset your body’s balance and interrupt your body’s ability to use insulin. Sleep apnea can worsen existing diabetes, too, for the same reason. Sleep apnea and diabetes can be a dangerous combination, so any chance you have to lessen the effects of one or the other is a chance to take. In this case, treating sleep apnea can help you manage your diabetes. It’s a win-win.
Help Weight Loss
Sleep apnea can lead and regular weight gain and obesity. The reason for this is simple. You’re less motivated to exercise when you have sleep apnea, and you tend to be hungrier because of an excess of ghrelin—the hormone that makes you hungry. When you aren’t motivated, it can be hard to stay on a healthy diet, so many people end up overeating junk food.
Treating sleep apnea can help you get your energy back and make you more motivated to go to the gym, go for a walk, cook a healthy meal, choose the healthy snack option, or drink enough water. Getting enough sleep, exercising, staying hydrated, and putting healthy things into your body are the cornerstones of losing weight.
It can be hard to have a healthy marriage when libido is an issue. Unfortunately, it’s not only the lack of motivation that decreases libido in those suffering from sleep apnea. Sleep apnea lowers testosterone levels in your body, leading to diminished libido for men and women. Treating sleep apnea can help you find your libido again.
Get Tested for Sleep Apnea to Improve Your Life
The only way to know if you have sleep apnea is to get a sleep test. The only option for a sleep test used to be a sleep lab. Those still exist, but why would you when you can order a sleep test online that is sent right to your house? You can test your sleep in the comfort of your own bed. With SleepTest.com, we can send you a home sleep test, and then one of our affiliate doctors will examine it, determine your diagnosis, and provide the appropriate treatment. It’s that easy.
- Order a sleep test
- Take the sleep test
- Get results
What are you waiting for? Order a sleep test online from SleepTest.com and improve your quality of life with sleep treatment.
Finding out that you have obstructive sleep apnea is equal parts relief and uncertainty. On the one hand, you’ve finally discovered the cause of your snoring, daytime sleepiness, and cognitive changes. On the other hand, you’re left with a choice, should you use CPAP or oral appliance therapy to treat your sleep apnea?
Learning that you have sleep apnea can be both a relief and frustration. Relief because you finally have answers to why you’re so tired during the day, wake up with headaches, and have a short fuse (among other symptoms!). Frustration because it’s just another thing you have to deal with. Sometimes it feels like the punches just keep coming.
Sleep apnea is a sleep-disordered breathing condition characterized by pauses in breathing while you sleep. These pauses last anywhere from several seconds to much longer, depending on the severity of your condition, and can happen hundreds of times per night. Sleep apnea leaves you unrested and irritable with headaches, memory problems, and more. If you’re experiencing sleep apnea symptoms, get a home sleep test from SleepTest.com to find out if you have sleep apnea, what type you have, its severity, and your treatment options.