WHAT IS SLEEP APNOEA?

Friday - - Sleep Special -

Those who suf­fer from this se­ri­ous sleep dis­or­der stop breath­ing for a few sec­onds whilst they are sleep­ing. It’s es­ti­mated that a quar­ter of the pop­u­la­tion has the con­di­tion. It’s more com­mon in older men. Ob­struc­tive sleep apnoea is caused when the air­ways in the throat relax too much dur­ing sleep, and pre­vent the sleeper from breath­ing prop­erly for at least 10 sec­onds at a time. The brain then sends sig­nals to rouse them into lighter sleep – al­though the sleeper may not be aware that it’s hap­pen­ing. The block­age can hap­pen sev­eral times a night. Un­less a part­ner alerts them, many suf­fer­ers don’t know what’s caus­ing their dis­rupted sleep. Di­ag­no­sis is usu­ally done by an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the pa­tient’s sleep pat­terns by a clinic. Sleep apnoea is con­sid­ered se­ri­ous be­cause the ef­fects over time can con­trib­ute to a host of ill­nesses. Those in­clude high blood pres­sure, risk of a stroke or heart at­tack, ir­reg­u­lar heart­beat and de­vel­op­ing type 2 di­a­betes. How­ever, be­ing over­weight is also a fac­tor in hav­ing sleep apnoea, so this may also be a re­sult of that un­der­ly­ing cause. The short-term ef­fect of sleep apnoea is tired­ness – to the point where you might pose a dan­ger to oth­ers if you drive, or op­er­ate ma­chin­ery for a liv­ing. It can also af­fect re­la­tion­ships, as suf­fer­ers of­ten snort, snore or breath loudly, or have night sweats, dis­rupt­ing their part­ners’ sleep. The con­di­tion can be treated with life­style changes, such as los­ing weight and re­duc­ing al­co­hol and smok­ing. For se­vere cases, the use of a con­tin­u­ous pos­i­tive air­way pres­sure ma­chine can be used to keep air­ways open.

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