If you’re feeling sluggish despite a good night’s sleep and are a loud snorer, chances are you have sleep apnea, a chronic condition
Who doesn’t love to sleep in and then wake up feeling refreshed? But have you ever noticed that despite your more than adequate hours of sleep, you wake up feeling sluggish and struggle to get through your day? Or how many times have people complained that your snoring has kept them up for the better part of the night?
It’s probably not something you should be merely shrugging off. It could be obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a condition in which the airflow decreases or pauses for short intervals when you are asleep. Incidentally, this occurs more often when you lie down on your back as airway constricts. The problem is more pronounced in people who are obese. So your waistline definitely affects your sleep patterns.
“There are primarily two stages of sleep — non-rapid eye movement (NREM), the lighter plane of sleep and rapid eye movement (REM) the deeper plane of sleep. In REM the airway constricts further and if breathing halts for more than 10 seconds then it is classified as apnea. Before that when the breathing is shallow it is classified as hypopnea. Using the apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) we measure the severity of OSA,” explains Dr Vijaykumar, consultant pulmonologist.
Men are said to be more prone to OSA and women post menopause as well. Health conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, heart ailment and obesity and some of the risk factors for sleep apnea.
This lack of quality sleep could lead to daytime sleepiness, irritability, poor memory, recurrent dream of being stangled, loss of libido etc. Most people don’t even realise they have a problem nor do they take snoring seriously. Due to lack of awareness, this condition is usually identified by doctors in inpatients and rarely in the OPD.
Since obesity is one of the major risk factors for OSA, weight reduction is one of the primary treatments advised. “Patients are also advised to avoid alcohol, smoking and sleeping pills. While there are surgical correction options chances of recurrence is high,” says Dr Vijay.
A machine called the CPAP machine helps clear the airway. The machine which can be worn as a mask during bedtime helps curb snoring and also improves quality of sleep. Sleeping on the side can help too.
Experts warns that it is important to treat OSA because it can be a precursor to coronary heart disease, diabetes, hypertensions and strokes apart from affecting the quality of life.