Do you find yourself attempting to sleep next to a partner with an alarmingly loud snoring problem? Getting proper rest every night is crucial to living a healthy life and snoring can be a tell-tale symptom of the disorder sleep apnea. In order to live healthy and function optimally, it’s crucial to educate yourself on sleep related matters. The CDC, Centers for Disease Control, reports that according to data from the National Health Interview 2005-2007, about 30% of adults were getting less than 6 hours of sleep a night. In 2009, an average of 31% of high school aged students claimed to get the recommended 8 hours of sleep for school nights. Snoring itself may not cause any disruption to your sleep patterns, butpeople experiencing sleep apnea are at a more serious risk for developing long term health conditions such as stroke or dementia. Additionally, people that are obese are more likely to experience sleep apnea and its associated symptoms.
Sleep apnea is a condition in which a person’s breathing either partially or completely ceases during sleep. There are two types of sleep apnea; obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and central sleep apnea (CSA). Central sleep apnea has a limited occurrence rate, and is generally found in individuals with another medical condition, such as a brainstem injury or having recently suffered a stroke. OSA is far more common, and patients experiencing this disorder have their air pathways blocked for seconds or even minutes at a time during their sleep. An improper circulation of oxygen through the body, particularly to the heart and brain, can lead to a variety of serious long-term effects. Leaving sleep apnea untreated increases the occurrence rate of high blood pressure, stroke, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.
In the September 2012 publication of the journal SLEEP, a study by Australian investigators aimed to discover if snoring contributed to increased mortality, cardiovascular disease, or stroke risk.Subjects were dismissed from the analysis if they had previously had a stroke or heart attack. Researchers collected follow up data over the span of 17 years and sampled a total of 380 people. The study concluded that snoring itself doesn’t increase any risks for heart disease as long as it isn’t a symptom of sleep apnea. Though it is a risk factor of the disorder, it isn’t going to harm you independent of the condition. Harmless snoring may only be a disturbance to your bed partner.
The good news is that the use of a CPAP, Continuous Positive Airway Pressure, machine is a highly effective and often recommended way of dealing with sleep apnea. However, for cases of mild to moderate sleep apnea it’s often enough to make use of a number of lifestyle changes, each with the potential to reduce your sleep apnea. Below are some of the best ways to prevent increasing the risk of heart related diseases and disorders associated with sleep apnea:
- Avoid over consumption of alcohol and prescription pills, especially in combination.
- Exercise on a regular basis to maintain a healthy weight.
- Smoking can highly irritate your throats upper airway which can contribute to snoring and sleep apnea. Stay away from smoking tobacco.
- Try not to sleep flat on your back. This can cause the tissues in the back of your throat to obstruct your air flow.
Following these few tips will give you a fighting chance against the development of sleep apnea, but in the event that it occurs anyways, it’s often recommended to visit a sleep specialist. A sleep specialist will likely refer you to a sleep lab, wherein a sleep study will be performed in order to gauge the severity of your condition. While it can be difficult to notice symptoms of sleep apnea, if you feel excessively tired during the day despite the amount of sleep you get, take a look at your lifestyle and see if your sleep hygiene can be improved. All it could take is a few little changes to help you finally get the sleep you deserve.