Sleep apnea is not only frustrating to experience, but it also negatively impacts your physical and mental health. It’s a very serious condition, so if you find yourself experiencing any of the signs of sleep apnea, it’s important to get it checked out by a healthcare professional and begin treatment.
It has been estimated that 1 in 12 persons have obstructive sleep apnea. It’s very common but often goes undiagnosed and untreated. These symptoms can be mistaken or written off as a situational event such as workday stress, poor eating habits or an uncomfortable sleeping environment. While situations may trigger our quality of sleep, it’s not the same as sleep apnea.
This symptom can be tricky, as many of the symptoms of sleep apnea and depression are similar. Treating sleep apnea can reduce the symptoms in both.1 Forty six percent of patients that have obstructive sleep apnea also have depression and see an improvement when they seek treatment for the sleeping condition.
Many people have experienced dry mouth at some point in their lives. Sometimes it may be due to having a cold, allergies or laying a certain way on a pillow that encourages mouth breathing. Mouth breathing encourages snoring and can cause a sore throat. If you notice that you often need a glass of water throughout the night or are extremely thirsty each morning, it may be caused by OSA.
High Blood Pressure
With obstructive sleep apnea, oxygen levels fall. The entire body is compromised when oxygen is limited. When this happens, the brain sends a signal to the blood vessels that they need to increase whatever oxygen they have and send it to the heart and brain in order to keep the body functioning. This entire process causes pressure on the vessel walls, which elevates blood pressure. The only thing that can fix this type of high blood pressure is addressing the OSA.
Obesity is often a cause and a symptom of OSA. One positive aspect of this is that it’s one of the only symptoms that can be reversed and retire a person’s sleep apnea.
When you’re chronically sleep deprived, you aren’t likely going to be in good spirits. Your brain and body aren’t getting refreshed in the way they need to each night. Even if you’re in bed for eight hours each night, it doesn’t mean your body is getting 8 hours of quality REM cycle sleep.
A strong marker of OSA is snoring. If you or someone you love snores consistently each night, you will want to see a physician. Snoring in itself isn’t a sign of a sleep disorder, but if you find yourself snoring each night or waking up gasping for air, it could be a sign of a narrow airway.
Feeling constantly exhausted is no picnic. It can impact relationships, your job and mental health. Left untreated, sleep apnea will never allow for a complete night’s rest.
How to Get Help
If you find commonality with these signs, it’s time to seek help. Thankfully, the process is fairly simple and will make a tremendous difference to your quality of life.
You should first seek the opinion of your doctor and explain all of your symptoms. After an examination, your doctor may decide that it would be best for you to undergo a sleep study. Results are most robust with overnight sleep studies. It’s very simple for the patient to complete and will only take one night. A sleep specialist will analyze your sleeping patterns and send the results to your doctor. If you’re curious about the sleep testing process, we can help answer your questions.
Impacts of Untreated Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is treatable and getting a handle on it can make you feel better than you’ve felt in a long time. It can even lengthen your lifespan. Left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to: heart attack, stroke, obesity, diabetes, depression, high blood pressure and a higher chance of motor vehicle accidents.
The time is now to get in control of your sleep. We’re here to help you along in that process. Contact us to learn more about sleep disorders and all of the ways in which we can help you.
Jehan, S., Auguste, E., Pandi-Perumal, S. R., Kalinowski, J., Myers, A. K., Zizi, F., Rajanna, M. G., Jean-Louis, G., & McFarlane, S. I. (2017). Depression, Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Psychosocial Health. Sleep medicine and disorders : international journal, 1(3), 00012.