Sometimes, the first sign of sleeps apnea is a partner who complains about your sleeping patterns. Your sudden gasps for air wake him or her up in the middle of the night. You may have never known you had a problem, and you may have gotten used to feeling a bit tired throughout the day. A growing body of evidence about this disorder shows that sleep apnea should not be taken lightly.
What is sleep apnea?
Obstructive sleeps apnea is the interruption of breathing while asleep. There are several possible physical causes. Tonsils, adenoids or other aspects of the anatomy of a patient’s throat and mouth may create a blockage. The soft tissue in the neck may temporarily collapse especially if there are extra fatty deposits. The result can be a long pause between breaths often followed by a sudden gasp for air.
Because a lack of sleeps affects the whole body, the symptoms of sleep apnea can involve several systems. People with this disorder frequently complain of headaches, irritability and confusion. Circulatory issues may cause problems with sexual performance. Hormonal changes can lead to unexpected weight gain.
Obstructive sleeps apnea is much more common than once thought. According to the Journal of Thoracic Disease, as many as one in five people in the general population experience some level of the disorder. Obesity can be a contributing factor, but people at a normal weight may also deal with the condition.
Sleep Apnea and High Blood Pressure
The long pauses of sleeps apnea mean that a patient’s body will not get enough oxygen. Lacking something essential for life can trigger the body’s natural stress response. As your body prepares to deal with a threat, it releases hormones like cortisol. In response to these chemical messengers, your heart rate and blood pressure increase.
When the body engages the stress response several times during the night, it can lead to a permanent increase in blood pressure. If you already have high blood pressure, sleep apnea can make the condition worse.
Increased Risks for Heart Problems
The drop in oxygen due to sleeps apnea puts a strain on your heart. Every time your body lacks oxygen, your heart will beat faster. The circulatory system works hard to get oxygen to critical systems like the brain. The unexpected demand may lead to an irregular heartbeat. An abnormal rhythm like that found in atrial fibrillation comes with an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
Sleep apnea combined with a pre-existing heart condition can have fatal consequences. The low oxygen levels coupled with the strain on the heart may cause cardiac arrest.
Conditions with a Sleep Apnea Link
Several medical conditions have a link to sleep apnea. It is not clear if sleep apnea is the cause of these conditions, but it may be a contributing factor. In some cases, sleeps apnea may be a symptom of another disorder.
Obesity is frequently linked with sleep apnea. Excess fat around the neck may change the anatomy and increase the risk of sleep apnea. At the same time, the lack of restful sleep may affect the body’s metabolism and increase fat storage. According to the National Institute of Health, patients with obstructive sleep apnea have increased levels of the hormone ghrelin. This hormone increases appetite, and elevated levels can cause higher food consumption.
Type II diabetes is another condition paired with sleep apnea. Disrupted sleep may cause disruptions in metabolic rhythms. During normal sleep, blood sugar levels even out as the body goes into a fasted state. Because sleep apnea begins to wake the patient, the body may start releasing hormones that prepare the digestive system to start working. As a result, patients may have a shorter fasting phase and eat more often during the day.
Several cognitive disorders also have links to sleep apnea. The brain carries out important functions while you sleep. Restful sleep provides a reset period where the brain can remove waste products that build up during the day. When sleep apnea disrupts this process, it can cause memory loss, confusion and a general mental fog.
Sleeps Apnea and Fatigue
When you are not sleeping well at night, it will catch up with you during the day. Long-term sleep apnea can affect more than your physical well-being. It can also create problems in your social life as well as in your professional life.
Restful sleep is necessary to function well in the world. People who experience sleep apnea can see a drop in performance at work or school. It is difficult to retain information and concentrate when you have not had enough sleep. You are prone to sloppy work and careless mistakes. Also, you may find yourself nodding off at inappropriate times like a lecture or work presentation.
Without enough sleep, you will also have problems relating to others. Sleeps apnea patients may be subject to mood swings and other inappropriate behavior. Tired people often have trouble censoring themselves. This trait can strain relationships both at work and at home.
Finally, fatigue slows down reaction times. Many workplace accidents occur because of insufficient sleeps. When someone with minimal rest gets behind the wheel of a vehicle, they are at a much higher risk of causing an accident. They may not only injure themselves but also other drivers.
Getting Help for Sleeps Apnea
Although sleeps apnea is a common disorder, it is not something you should ignore. The consequences of this condition can affect every aspect of your life. If you or a loved one needs a sleep apnea expert in New Jersey, contact us today. We can help you understand your sleeps patterns and get the rest you need for a healthy, happy life.