Introduction to Sleep Apnea
Sleep Apnea is basically a sleeping disorder of a serious nature. In ordinary conditions, a sleeping person has an uninterrupted cycle of breathing. But in case of sleep apnea, the breathing process is accompanied by irregular pauses or repeated shallow breaths, and snoring afterward. The pauses may be there for a few seconds or minutes and hamper the blood circulation and oxygen supply to the brain. Sleep apnea can affect anyone from kids to adults.
- Introduction to Sleep Apnea
- Sleep Apnea Symptoms in Men
- Silent Pauses:
- Sleep Deprivement:
- Sleepiness While Driving:
- Lack of Energy:
- Anxiety and Depression:
- Sleep Apnea Symptoms in Women
- Can Sleep Apnea Cause Anxiety And Depression?
- Can You Lose Weight With a CPAP Machine?
There are basically three types of sleep apnea or sleep apnoea.
1. Obstructive Sleep Apnea
OSA is more common than other two types and affects persons aged above 40. It is more mechanical in nature as OSA is caused when the airway is blocked by the soft tissues present in the throat.
2. Central Sleep Apnea
In CSA, the respiratory center in the brain ceases to function properly. In the absence of a continuous message from the central nervous system, the respiratory muscles present in the body stop responding in a uniform way. As a result, the sleeping person hardly makes any effort to breathe consistently.
3. Mixed Sleep Apnea
When the both OSA and CSA are present, the condition is called MSA or mixed sleep apnea.
- Sleep apnea impacts the quality of sleep during the night, the person may show more inclination to day sleep.
- The lack of sleep leading to poor concentration and drowsiness.
- A headache in the morning followed by lethargy and an absence of positive drive.
- The person may snore loudly and a sudden choking may wake him/her up in the middle of the night.
- The blocked nostrils in OSA force the person to breathe through the mouth and thus, a dry throat is a strong indication of sleep apnea.
- Frequent mood swings and a poor memory.
- An interruption in the execution of cognitive processes like learning new things and decision-making.
- Poorer eye-sight.
What Causes Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea may be caused due to many factors. However, the most common causes and conditions which attribute to this disease are:
- Poor lifestyle choices, like smoking and consuming alcohol. Both these toxic addictions steal away the tightness of throat muscles and make them loose, causing blockage of the airway.
- Being a male is in itself a strong factor to have more chances of suffering from sleep apnea.
- People above 40 years of age are quite likely to suffer from this disease.
- If sleep apnea has been prevalent in the family history, then there is a high possibility of it being transferred to the younger generation.
- Obese and overweight people are more at risk to develop this sleep disorder.
- If someone has a large neck size then chances are he or she might acquire this problem with time.
- Untreated tonsils, any long-term untreated allergy, or even having a large tongue may make a person prone to having sleep apnea.
- Nasal septums also act as an obstruction and may lead to OSA.
- People struggling with sinus are equally at risk.
The Associated Risks
There are many associated risks if one is suffering from sleep apnea. Some risks are manageable but some are of highly dangerous nature and capable of causing serious threats to one’s life.
- Persons with sleep apnea are more likely to develop high blood pressure over the time.
- Sleep apnea plays a big role in the onset of diabetes.
- Having a high blood pressure naturally provides a breeding ground to other serious health issues and is mainly harmful to the heart.
- The heart problems include irregular heartbeats, having a stroke, a heart attack, or a complete failure of the heart causing the death of the person.
- Sleep apnea affects the sleep and energy levels. Due to this, the person may soon begin to lose interest in any kind of activity during the day. This leads to instability and affects the personal and financial life of that person in a very negative way.
- Frequent mood swings and headaches might push the person to stay secluded. In long term, it results in depression.
- Kids who are suffering from this disease either become hyperactive or face a struggle in learning new concepts and activities, making their performance poor and hampering their academic life.
- In case of adults, the lack of concentration and consistent drowsiness leads to bad driving and hence is one of the major causes of the life-threatening road accidents.
- As sleep apnea inhibits the oxygen supply, the greater amount of carbon dioxide accumulated in the body may eventually cause death during the sleep.
Sleep apnea is one of the many sleep disorders. It requires a sleep specialist to diagnose and confirm whether it is sleep apnea or some other sleep related problem. Once diagnosed, the treatment for the three types of sleep apnea are also different from each other.
The diagnosis process involves a formal study process called polysomnography. This sleep study can either be done at home or a professional center. During this process, they read and record various disturbances occurring in sleep and breath pattern and then analyze it to confirm the disorder.
The common machines and instruments used to conduct polysomnography are EEG (electroencephalogram) for monitoring the brain activities, EMG (electromyogram) for the muscular twitching, EOG (electro-oculogram) for the rapid eye movements (REM), and ECG (electrocardiogram) for the rate and rhythm of the heartbeat.
Following treatments are effective in treating sleep apnea:
Continuous Positive Air Pressure (CPAP) is a mask-like device which is worn by the patient to maintain the healthy and regular air flow.
Surgeries may be performed in case of a deformed nasal septum or to remove the soft tissues hanging from the throat and blocking the airway. If there is any twitching of facial muscles, it can also be corrected with the help of surgery.
These basically constitute of dental devices.
- Quit alcohol and smoking.
- Losing excessive weight may help.
- Sleeping on one side rather than on your back enhances the breathing process.
- Avoid taking sleeping pills.
Sleep Apnea Symptoms in Men
Sleep apnea is a medical condition which is characterized by the absence of breathing for 10 seconds at least or more during the sleep of the patient. Such episodes are repetitive and end when the patient wakes up due to low blood oxygen level. There are multiple symptoms associated with this condition and they can even affect a person’s daily life. Not getting a treatment can result in anxiety and depression as well so this problem asks for your attention as soon as it is noticed.
Sleep apnea is caused by an obstruction of the airway. This obstruction can be overcome by various treatment options. However, the most important things are to identify sleep apnea. There are various symptoms associated with the condition. Studies show that men suffer from sleep apnea more than women do. Statistics say that men experience sleep apnea 8 times more than women do. The symptoms of this disease may also be different in two genders. The reason for such differences is usually hormones and anatomy.
Following are the symptoms that men with sleep apnea experience.
Snoring is the most common symptom in men. It may seem harmless but it is not. It clearly indicates that there is some obstruction in the airway, leading to the production of noises. Women often complain about their husbands’ snoring. The complaint should be taken to the doctor.
Men who snore or even who don’t snore may wake up snorting or gasping for air. This may happen multiple times over the night and indicates that the patient was experiencing an episode of apnea that was ended by gasping.
Silent pauses may also occur. This can be noticed by the partner. In such pauses, the patient stops breathing for a while and then starts breathing again.
Being sleep deprived is a symptom experienced by both genders. Sleep apnea has repetitive episodes and a person wakes up gasping when the brain doesn’t get enough oxygen. This happens multiple times over the night and hence the suffering person has a disturbed sleep that doesn’t make him fresh in the morning.
Sleepiness While Driving:
It is an alarming symptom as it can lead to accidents as well. When a person has a disturbed sleeping pattern over the night, he may feel sleepy while driving to work in the morning.
Lack of Energy:
Adequate sleep is important to carry out your day to day tasks. When sleep apnea patient fails to have adequate sleep, he starts feeling low and doesn’t feel like doing his daily tasks. He experiences lack of interest as well.
Anxiety and Depression:
This symptom, though more experienced by women, is present is men as well. When sleep apnea goes on over a long time without being treated, the patient starts having anxiety that eventually turns into depression. This is caused by stressful effects of lack of restful sleep and being unable to carry out your tasks actively.
Sleep apnea is not taken as seriously as it should be. This condition requires early diagnosis and treatment like any other disease. Studies report that 4-24% of men suffer from sleep apnea. Being unable to notice and get it treated has serious health implication. Depression is one of the complications that can affect the life adversely. Other than that, patients who have sleep apnea have a higher risk of hypertension, coronary artery disease, heart failure, and stroke. So get in touch with a sleep specialist as soon as you notice any of the above symptoms in you or your partner and stay safe of adverse effects of this disease that are not only bothersome but can affect your health negatively in the long term.
Sleep Apnea Symptoms in Women
Sleep apnea is present in 3%-7% of the population, with males twice more prone to be diagnosed with sleep apnea as compared to women. It is thought that around one-third people suffering from sleep apnea are females, while rest being males. Women are far less diagnosed with sleep apnea, which could be both due to the typical image created by the media (man snoring and disturbing the bed partner), and secondly due to different symptoms in the female gender.
Sleep apnea leads to breathing pauses, usually lasting few seconds. A person may be diagnosed with suffering from sleep apnea if such breaks happen more than 30 times in an hour. These pauses or shallow breathing in sleep apnea disturbs the gas exchange through lungs, leading to hypoxia (oxygen deficit) and hypercapnia (excess of carbon dioxide).
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is caused due to the collapse of upper respiratory tract while sleeping, thus resulting in difficulty of respiration and frequent awakening. It is crucial that sleep apnea is recognized on time as it increases the risk of heart attack, hypertension, diabetes, stroke, not to mention that it worsens the quality of life due to chronic fatigue. In women, sleep apnea may also lead to mood disorders like depression and anxiety.
Obesity, sedentary lifestyle, family history, age, menopause, smoking, alcohol abuse, craniofacial abnormalities are among the most common risk factors.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
Though gender bias in the diagnosis of sleep apnea is common, yet research shows that symptoms in both the genders are similar. Snoring is perhaps the most common and recognized symptom of sleep apnea, other presentations of sleep apnea are insomnia, chronic fatigue, morning headaches, silent pauses in breath (while sleeping), difficulty in concentration, irritability, and decreased sexual desire.
How Sleep Apnea Symptoms Differ in Women?
Snoring and daytime sleepiness is equally common in both the genders, but research shows that snoring in women is slightly under-reported. Symptoms like snoring are subtler in women. Further, women are more likely to complain about insomnia.
Research has also shown the double-sided relation between depression and sleep apnea in women. Sleep apnea is an independent risk factor for depression, while depression may also disturb the sleep pattern.
Hypothyroidism and other endocrinal disorders are more common in women, with sleep apnea one of the symptoms of such ailments.
Research has also shown that somehow women are less complaining about the sleep apnea, they also smoke less and drink less alcohol in comparison to men. However, medications like antidepressants are prescribed more often to women and are known to cause sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is diagnosed based on the patient’s history, by physical examination, in women symptoms like irritability and mood swing may also point towards sleep disturbances. But perhaps the most dependable method is polysomnography. It is done in a sleep lab and is a non-invasive method. It would require a person to wear sensors while sleeping. These sensors would measure eye movement, respiration and heart rate, the oxygen level in blood, blood pressure, heart rate and so on.
Although compact apparatuses for measuring sleep quality at home are also available, they are considered inferior to polysomnography done by the sleep specialist.
Can Sleep Apnea Cause Anxiety And Depression?
Sleep is an integral part of a healthy and active life. Your body needs 6-8 hours of restful sleep a day for proper functioning. Being sleep deprived can affect many functions of your body. However, sleep disorders are a major issue of the modern world. Almost 30% of individuals have reported insomnia around the world and 10% are reported to have chronic insomnia and that’s quite an alarming ratio. Almost 50-70 million people have reported different sleep disorders alone in United States. The number goes far higher for the entire world.
There are various causes of sleep deprivation or disturbed sleep. Many medical and environmental conditions may leave you sleep deprived. One of such conditions is sleep apnea. “Apnea” is a Greek word that means “want of breath”. Sleep apnea is defined as a sleep breathing disorder which is characterized by pauses in breathing when a person is asleep and these pauses are repetitive. These pauses occur many time per hour and last for at least 10 seconds and more. When such episode occurs, the blood oxygen level falls down and brain doesn’t get enough oxygen. This wakes a person up and he or she takes a long gasp to fulfill the need. There are repetitive cycles of this and this disturbs a person’s sleep multiple times.
As sleep apnea disturbs the sleep, it causes symptoms as well. The problems associated with sleep apnea include daytime sleepiness, low level of alertness, snoring, and DEPRESSION! Yes, sleep apnea can cause depression and anxiety as well and that’s something serious!
Studies show that sleep apnea is associated with anxiety and depression regardless of the person’s age, sex, and weight etc. People with sleep apnea can show all the symptoms of depression like low mood, hopelessness, and anti-social attitude. Diagnosis can be made on the basis of history of sleep apnea and the presence of symptoms of depression. Many sleep specialists routinely screen their sleep apnea patients for depression and anxiety.
Sleep apnea has a bad effect on day to day life of a person. It disturbs sleep repetitively over the night. When a person wakes up, he or she doesn’t feel fresh at all and faces headache, daytime sleepiness, and inability to concentrate. When this goes on over a long time, it leads to anxiety that eventually turns into the depression.
So What is The Treatment?
Treating sleep apnea is the simplest way to treat anxiety and depression associated with it. The focus is on nipping the evil in the bud. If a doctor will simply treat depression and not the cause, it will return. So sleep apnea is treated first. There are different treatment options for sleep apnea like:
- Reducing weight as being overweight interferes with airway
- Continuous positive air pressure (CPAP) that makes your that no obstruction occurs in the airway
- Surgeries that focus on correcting the obstructive causes in the airway
As the treatment for sleep apnea is taken, the sleep is improved and a person feels much healthier and active than before. Symptoms like anxiety and depression finally go away with a good night sleep and normal day time routine.
What is the Role of a Psychologist or Psychiatrist?
In the depression caused by sleep apnea, the role of a psychologist or a psychiatrist is worth mentioning. Taking help of experts makes it way better. The best way is to get treatment from both, a sleep specialist and a psychologist after symptoms of depressions have been confirmed in a patient with sleep apnea.
Support groups play a very important role too. Interacting with people who understand the issue and can support each other getting through it make it much more easier as such patients may face various social challenges.
Sleep apnea is a condition that should not be ignored and should be duly treated. People tend to ignore it and don’t consider it a disease, ending up with serious complications like depression. It is important to see a sleep specialist as soon as you notice the symptoms in you or some loved one!
Can You Lose Weight With a CPAP Machine?
CPAP machines are used all over the world by sleep apnea patients, some of them consider it a little uncomfortable but it is undeniably one of the most reliable treatments. Some patients give up on the treatment because of the discomfort that is caused, but recent studies have been proving that using CPAP has more benefits than treating sleep apnea like helping patients losing weight. Although these are motivational discoveries, there are some information to consider.
1. Obesity, The Main Cause
Obese people have a higher tendency to develop sleep apnea due to their thick necks. The excessive tissues lead to blockages in the breathing area, leading to periods of pauses in breathing longer than usual. The airways can be unblocked using a CPAP (acronym for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure).
Although losing height is a reliable solution to treat sleep apnea, it is hard to some people to get rid of the extra pounds.
2. A Hormonal Question?
Researchers have found that man who suffer with obstructive sleep apnea have lower levels of the hormone leptin. This hormone sends the information to the brain about the need to eat (in this case, this hormone indicates that the body doesn’t need food). On the other hand, the hormone ghrelin presents higher levels than usual. This hormone sends a different message to the brain, indicating that there is a need to eat when there isn’t.
According to a study published on “The European Respiratory Journal” CPAP has been helping the body to regulate the production of leptin and ghrelin after 8 weeks of nightly usage. This way patients feel less hungry and only when they need to keep their body normal function. This is also important since other studies reveal that sleep deprivation or interrupted sleep cycles lead to an increased production of ghrelin, increasing the calories intake and leading to an excessive weight.
Thus, CPAP doesn’t help patients losing weight directly, its usage regulates the hormones that control the need to eat, avoiding an excessive intake of food that leads to a progressive increasing of weight.
3. Take Care of Your Everyday Habits
Scientists have already been discovering that using CPAP machine may help you losing weight, but minor changes in your lifestyle can help you losing weight faster.
Avoid eating before bedtime: When you are going to bed you don’t need the same energy you need before your everyday activities. Avoid food rich in fat and sugar and have smaller portions.
Have a balanced diet: make a diet rich in good proteins, carbohydrates and healthy fats. Balance your daily needs with a healthier and balanced diet, you’ll have a better digestion, lose weight and sleep better
Exercise: Besides taking care of your diet it is important to exercise every day. Try to do some walks and gym work, like aerobics or weightlifting. You’ll notice the difference.