Written By Ms. Pooja Bajaj, Senior Neuro Therapist – AktivHealth™
“Sleep is that golden chain that ties HEALTH and our BODIES together”
As quoted by Thomas Dekker
If this golden chain is broken, our health falls apart. Sound sleep is a critical component of our health as we spend 25%- 35% of our lives sleeping. Sleep is the time when our body and brain rest & detoxify from stress. We all know that disturbed sleep can cause various health problems but what we may not know is that if left untreated, the consequences are life-threatening. There are many causes for fragmented or disturbed sleep but one of the most common is “OBSTRUCTIVE SLEEP APNEA” and people know very little about it.
WHAT IS OBSTRUCTIVE SLEEP APNEA (OSA)?
Obstructive sleep apnea is the term used to define the cessation of breathing (interrupted breathing) during sleep. People with sleep apnea stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, sometimes hundreds of times which means the brain and the rest of the body may not get enough oxygen.
WHAT WOULD HAPPEN TO MY BRAIN & BODY IF I DON’T GET ENOUGH OXYGEN BECAUSE OF OSA?
Our brain uses 20% of the body’s oxygen supply, without it, the brain is not able to perform basic function i.e. to metabolize glucose, and therefore cannot convert glucose into energy. It’s the glucose that powers the brain cells to function properly from planning and thought to heart rate and digestion.
Sleep apnea may result in:
• Loud snoring
• Episodes in which you stop breathing during sleep- which could be reported by your sleeping partner
• Gasping for air during sleep
• Awakening with dry mouth
• Headaches in the morning after waking up
• Difficulty staying asleep (insomnia)
• Excessive daytime sleepiness (hypersomnia) and lack of energy during day
• Difficulty paying attention while awake
• Forgetfulness, mood changes, irritability and a decreased interest in sex
• Sleepiness while driving
SLEEP APNEA IF LEFT UNTREATED MAY RESULT IN:
• Brain fog (confusion, disorientation, and frustration)
• Three times greater risk of stroke
• High blood pressure
• Type-2 Diabetes
• Cardiac arrhythmias
• Congestive heart failure
• Early death
• Worsening of asthma and COPD
• Fatal road accidents while driving
HOW OBSTRUCTIVE SLEEP APNEA IS DIAGNOSED?
Along with the history of signs & symptoms, a gold standard test called POLYSOMNOGRAPHY is conducted. During this sleep study, the patient is connected to equipment which monitors their heart, lung and brain activity, breathing patterns, arms and leg movements, and blood oxygen levels while you sleep.
AM I AT RISK OF DEVELOPING OSA?
Yes, if you are:
• Age 40- 70 years
• Commercial motor vehicle driver
• Family history of obstructive sleep apnea
• Male gender
• Obese (BMI index > 35)
• Postmenopausal woman not taking hormone therapy
• Preoperative for bariatric surgery
• Retrognathia (abnormal positioning of maxilla or mandible)
IS THERE ANY TREATMENT FOR OBSTRUCTIVE SLEEP APNEA?
Yes, there is a treatment for OSA and it depends on the cause resulting in this. It may range from:
• Lose weight, if you are overweight
• Use a nasal decongestant or allergy medications
• Don’t sleep on your back
• Exercise regularly
• Quit smoking
• Don’t drink alcohol several hours before sleeping
• CPAP machine application during sleep
• Respiratory exercises by a physiotherapist
• Oral appliances by dentist &