Numerous studies have highlighted the health risks associated with sleep apnea. Sleep apnea can promote, for example: Alzheimer’s disease and other memory-related problems, gout, heart disease, prediabetes or diabetes, tumor growth. In addition, sleep apnea can contribute to causing a depressive state. It is sometimes even misdiagnosed as depression. The more severe your sleep apnea, the more likely you are to feel depressed, primarily due to poor sleep quality.
By reducing the amount of oxygen in the blood, sleep apnea can alter the function of internal organs and/or exacerbate other illnesses you may have. By slowing or preventing the crucial detoxification of brain tissue because the brain’s waste disposal system, known as the glymphatic system, only functions during deep sleep. By disrupting your circadian rhythm, which results in decreased melatonin production and disruption of other chemical processes in the body.
There are three types of sleep apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) occurs when your tongue sticks to the soft palate, which in turn sticks, along with the uvula, to the back of your throat, blocking your airway while you sleep. Frequent airway failures during sleep make it difficult to breathe for periods of up to 10 seconds. Breathing usually resumes after a big breath, gasp, or grunt, which disrupts the sleep of the person with OSA and the person sleeping with them. OSA can also reduce the flow of oxygen to vital organs and cause irregular heartbeats.
Central sleep apnea (CSA) is a more mechanical problem, characterized by blocked airways and no signal from the brain to the muscles to tell them to breathe. Specifically, your diaphragm and chest wall aren’t getting the right signals from your brain, which should be commanding them to take in air and regulate your breathing. ACS can be caused by conditions such as heart failure or stroke, or sleeping at high altitudes.
Complex sleep apnea is a combination of the previous two, in which your brain wakes you up with each apneic event, usually partially, to prompt you to catch your breath. If you have severe sleep apnea, your body can literally wake you up hundreds of times a night. The period most marked by these brief awakenings is the end of your sleep cycle, during the rapid eye movement (REM) phase.
Do you suffer from sleep apnea, here’s how to recognize it?
Here are some of the common signs and symptoms of sleep apnea:
- – Abnormal breathing pattern during sleep
- – Sudden awakenings with shortness of breath
- – Pain in the chest at night
- – Difficulty concentrating
- – Hypersomnia (excessive daytime sleepiness)
- – Insomnia Mood swings
- – Morning headaches
- – Shortness of breath relieved by sitting
- – Snoring
- – Breathing stops during sleep