If you wake up feeling tired all of the time, you may have a condition known as sleep apnea. It interferes with your breathing so your cells don’t receive an adequate amount of oxygen.
Fortunately, if you have this condition, you may undergo a simple sleep apnea test and receive a sleep apnea machine to combat the problem.
What Does It Mean to Have Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea occurs when you stop breathing while you sleep. Some people stop breathing hundreds of time per night. Because of the interruption in your breathing, enough oxygen doesn’t reach your brain.
You may have either obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) or central sleep apnea (CSA). Obstructive sleep apnea is the more common form. If you have OSA, you have a soft tissue in the back of your throat that closes while you sleep.
If you have central sleep apnea, you don’t have any blockage. Instead, your brain fails to signal the muscles to breathe. Therefore, when you have CSA, you have instability in the part of your brain that stimulates your breathing.
Some people have a combination of OSA and CSA, known as complex sleep apnea syndrome.
What Are the Signs of Sleep Apnea?
Knowing the signs of sleep apnea can help you receive the proper treatment, so you can get a better night sleep. It can prevent complications like falling asleep while at work or driving, or developing heart disease or high blood pressure, all of which you’re at risk for when you have this condition.
You may snore loudly if you have this condition. Snoring is more prominent with individuals who have obstructive sleep apnea. You may still have sleep apnea even if you don’t snore.
You may wake up numerous times throughout the night. When you wake up, you won’t even remember it because each time is very brief. It’s possible for you to wake up anywhere between five to 30 times each hour throughout the entire night.
You might wake up in the middle of the night gasping for air or feeling short of breath. Typically, these symptoms indicate you have central sleep apnea.
Other Possible Symptoms
It’s possible you’ll wake up in the morning with dry mouth or a sore throat. It’s possible to suffer from the following symptoms as well:
- Headache in the morning
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Difficulty paying attention
- Trouble staying asleep
What are the Sleep Apnea Causes?
The causes of sleep apnea vary based on the type you have.
Causes of Obstructive Sleep Apnea
The obstructive form occurs as a result of the muscles in the back of your throat relaxing. These particular muscles are responsible for supporting your soft palate, tonsils, tongue, and throat.
As these muscles relax, it narrows your airway when you breathe, which means you aren’t able to inhale enough oxygen.
Although your brain isn’t one of the causes of sleep apnea in this form, your brain does sense when you don’t breathe adequately, causing you to wake up throughout the night.
Causes of Central Sleep Apnea
Central sleep apnea isn’t as common. It stems from your brain not transmitting signals to the muscles necessary for breathing.
How Does a Doctor Diagnose Sleep Apnea?
A doctor performs a sleep apnea test to determine if you have this disorder. The test is known as a polysomnogram, which you may complete in a center or possibly in your own home. During the study, either you — if you perform the study at home — or someone at the facility where you have the study performed applies sensors to different areas of your body to detect your vital signs while you sleep.
When you have your sleep study, you have electrodes placed on your face and scalp to monitor your brain activity. Another piece of standard equipment for a sleep apnea test is a belt around your abdomen that measures your breathing. On the end of your finger, you need to wear an oximeter to measure the amount of oxygen in your blood.
What Is the Treatment for Sleep Apnea?
After you receive a diagnosis of sleep apnea, you may receive a sleep apnea machine known as a CPAP or a BiPap. A continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine forces a small amount of air pressure into your airways, so they remain open while you sleep. The amount of air remains constant.
On the other hand, a BiPap or bilevel positive airway pressure machine sends air pressure to your lungs, but you receive a higher amount when you inhale as opposed to when you exhale.
This common sleep disorder can have a significant impact on your quality of life. With treatment for sleep apnea, possibly including a sleep apnea machine and lifestyle choices, you can live a normal life without daytime sleepiness.