Sleep Apnea

What causes sleep apnea, treatment of sleep apnea

Sleep apnea is one of the many medical problems that can cause insomnia. A sleep apnea patient may believe that his only problem is insomnia; when actually the problem of insomnia is a symptom of the primary problem of sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea is the recurrent stopping of breathing during sleep. If a person sleeps alone, they probably will not know that this is happening but if they have a sleep partner, the bedmate may notice the repeated, followed by choking or gasping to get air into the lungs. Every time that apnea happens during the night, normal sleep pattern is interrupted and that causes the symptoms of insomnia.

People with sleep apnea wake up before they go through the normal amount of slow wave sleep (stages 3 and 4 of non-REM sleep) also called delta sleep. These stages are the deepest stages of sleep and are the periods when researchers believe, the brain, muscle tissues, cardiovascular and hormone systems, restore or repair themselves from damage occurring during the day.

Insomnia that goes on for more than a period of two weeks, can cause many symptoms — daytime sleepiness, falling asleep at inappropriate times (such as while driving or at work), waking up feeling un-refreshed in the morning after what seems to them to have been a full night’s sleep. The longer the insomnia last, the worse the symptoms of chronic insomnia become. A person may start experiencing memory problems, learning difficulties and depression.

If the insomnia is caused by sleep apnea, the symptoms will continue to get worse. The person may even have personality changes,loud snoring, rapid weight gain, sweating during the night, and waking up with a headache. If a person experiences any of these symptoms and has had insomnia for over a time of more than two weeks, it is important that they make an appointment to visit with their physician for a medical checkup.

Please note that not everyone who snores has sleep apnea. Sleep apnea happens often in people who are overweight, but all people can have it. People with sleep apnea very often don’t know they have it, because they don’t know they are having problems breathing while sleeping. But, they will eventually notice the physical symptoms of insomnia.

If a person truly has insomnia caused by sleep apnea,the physician will probably find that the patient has, or is bordering on, high blood pressure and will need to test the patient for diabetes, heart trouble, and may even have the person go to a sleep center, where sleep can be monitored for a night. Sleep studies have shown that a person with severe sleep apnea may stop breathing hundreds of times a night, for a few seconds to as long as 10 minutes; but this is usually only in the more severe cases.

After reviewing all tests, the doctor will be able to tell if the sleep problems are true sleep apnea or if the insomnia is being caused by another medical problem.

The majority of times, a person with a slight case of sleep apnea can be helped with natural sleep aids or medications for the underlying medical problems. Or, they may just need to make some lifestyle changes such as not smoking, losing weight or getting more exercise. If the sleep apnea is more severe and has made a severe impact, or caused significant medical problems — the doctor will need to treat both the medical condition, and the sleep problems. For severe sleep apnea caused by airway obstruction, there are several treatments; including a device that can be used at night, as well as sleep apnea surgery to reduce or remove any obstructions.

Sleep apnea left untreated can increase the odds of heart attacks, strokes and high blood pressure. It can also increase a person’s risk of diabetes as well as increasing the risk for work-related injury, and accidents while driving. So, it is most important that a person with long term, chronic insomnia, see a doctor as quickly as possible.

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