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Don’t Lose Sleep Over Sleep Apnea

April 21st, 2022

Do you wake up feeling tired, even after a full night’s sleep?

Are you sleepy during the day?

Do other members of your household complain about your snoring?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you may have sleep apnea. Many people suffer from sleep apnea and don’t know it. In fact, an estimated 30 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea…but only 20% of them have a diagnosis. Meanwhile, sleep apnea can be damaging to your health.

There are financial costs associated with sleep apnea, as well. One study estimated the annual economic cost of undiagnosed sleep apnea to be $149.6 billion, due to:

  • Motor vehicle accidents ($26.2 billion)
  • Workplace accidents ($6.5 billion)
  • Lost productivity ($86.9 billion)
  • Medical costs ($30 billion)

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a medical condition where a person’s breathing starts and tops frequently while asleep. How often breathing is interrupted can vary from 5 to 100 times per minute.

There are three types of sleep apnea:

Obstructive sleep apnea (the most common) occurs when the airway is blocked during sleep. Usually this occurs because the tongue and soft palate collapse against the back of the throat as the throat muscles relax.

Central sleep apnea occurs when the brain doesn’t consistently send the signal to breathe to the lungs while a person is sleeping. This can be caused by cardiovascular conditions, stroke, or neuromuscular illnesses like ALS.

As the name implies, combination sleep apnea is when a person has a combination of obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea.

What Are the Symptoms of Sleep Apnea?

Warning signs of sleep apnea often come from someone else…usually a significant other. They may report that you:

  1. Snore loudly
  2. Stop breathing for several seconds at a time while sleeping
  3. Frequently gasp, choke, or take shallow breaths at night
  4. Are restless while sleeping

You may notice the following:

  1. You suffer from fatigue during the day
  2. You fall asleep during the day
  3. You’re easily irritated and have trouble focusing
  4. You sometimes wake up suddenly with the feeling that you’re choking

Why You Should Not Ignore These Warning Signs

There are plenty of reasons to be concerned if you have any of the warning signs associated with sleep apnea.

When you stop breathing during sleep (even if you don’t wake up when it happens), you shift from deep sleep to lighter sleep. This is problematic because deep sleep is when your body restores itself.

Missing out on deep sleep can reduce your energy level, slow recovery time from injuries, and impair your immune system. Sleep apnea can also make you more accident-prone.

Increasingly studies are showing that getting insufficient deep sleep each night is bad for long term for brain health. Sleep apnea also puts a strain on the cardiovascular system.

Several specific medical conditions are tied to sleep apnea, including:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Depression
  • Sexual dysfunction

What Should You Do?

The risk factors for developing sleep apnea include:

  • Gender
    Men are more likely than women to suffer from sleep apnea. However, it becomes more common in women after they reach menopause.
  • ObesityMore than 20% of overweight people suffer from sleep apnea, as compared to just 3% of people who are not overweight.
  • Hormone Imbalance
    Diminished levels of estrogen in women and testosterone in men can increase the risk for developing sleep apnea. Excess cortisol production can also be a factor.

If you think you may suffer from sleep apnea, your primary care physician will likely have you do a sleep study. Sleep studies are often done in a sleep center, but increasingly they can be done at home. During a sleep study, breathing and oxygen levels are monitored while you sleep.

The most common treatment for sleep apnea is a CPAP (continuous positive air pressure) device. CPAP devices use air pressure to keep breathing passages open during sleep.

Specially designed mouthpieces can also reduce sleep apnea by bringing the lower jaw forward to keep the airway open.

Lifestyle changes, such as exercise, losing weight, and changes in sleep position, can also help to reduce or eliminate sleep apnea.

In extreme cases, surgery may be recommended.

And then there’s bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (or BHRT). Keeping important hormones like estrogen and testosterone properly balanced can go a long way toward reducing sleep apnea risk.

Are you interested in sleep apnea prevention through BHRT? Renew Youth can help.

Call us today at 800-859-7511 or use our convenient contact form to sign up for your free consultation.

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