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What Exactly Is Sleep Apnea?

Aug 17, 2007
Have you found you seem to be tired most of the time. Maybe you went to bed early last night, but there is still that unrelenting feeling of fatigue that seems to be putting your life into one slow almost dreamlike state.

What may well be happening is a condition known as sleep apnea. When people sleep they undergo many cycles, five stages in all can be moved through per sleep cycle. Initial stages consist of drowsiness and light sleep, latter deep sleep stages then result, REM being the final state.

Sleep apnea involves your body physically stopping breathing for a very short amount of time. Your body reacts to this sudden starving of oxygen by jolting you into commencing breathing again. Afterwards sleep is continued, unfortunately time is required to reach deep sleep and therefore people who's bodies are constantly waking up during a night may well find they're very tired the next day. The incidents when you awoke during the night may well not even be remembered at all. Incidents of breathing cessation can occur many times, sometimes up to 100 times in one night.

Three classifications of sleep apnea exist:

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)

By far the most common of the sleep apnea's, people suffering from OSA have normal breathing that becomes momentarily stopped from passing into the lungs due to upper reaches of the air passages (run from the mouth to the lungs and are supported by muscles) collapsing whilst asleep.

Central Sleep Apnea

Chest muscles stop functioning for short periods whilst asleep, breathing consequently momentarily halted.

Mixed Sleep Apnea

Known to be one of the most difficult of the sleep apnea's to treat. The sufferers brain occasionally fails to keep the body breathing. When the person then tries to breathe an air passage obstruction/ collapse makes this very difficult.

Unusually large tongues, tonsils or uvulas can block your airways. Certain air passage or jaw shapes including polyps found in the nasal cavity can also promote obstructions to air movements. Too much fat deposition around the neck can mean air passages are constricted further when pressure is applied from lying down and sleeping.

Quick re-starting of your breathing increases the work the heart has to do as well. The heart is furiously trying to move what oxygen exists in the blood to all necessary areas. Sleep apnea are associated with:

Heart disease
Irregular heart beats
High blood pressures
Heart attacks

Sleep apnea is commonest in men, of which those that are older, snore or are overweight suffer most. The huge problem of this condition is that it can go undiscovered for years since it is not immediately obvious. Many sufferers of this condition learn to work around their daily tiredness, how tired they actually are not always being fully realized. Sleep apnea symptoms can be:

Chest retraction (known as sunken chest). Seen in child sufferers
Sore/ dry throat
Low memory
Poor concentration
Lowered libido
Occasional nightly urination
Waking numerous times per night
Morning dry mouth
Fatigue and sleepiness during the day
Changes in personality
Headaches in the morning
Unexplained respiratory or heart cessations
Strong perspiration during sleep
Increased weight gain

If you or your spouse may have experienced any of the above symptoms try visiting your local GP for answers. Potentially finding that you do have sleep apnea and subsequently getting rid of it could be one of the best things you do.
About the Author
If you have been found to have sleep apnia symptoms try visiting http://www.sleepapneafacts.info for further useful and related information.
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