Stop Breathing While Sleeping

It is estimated that approximately 50% of all people are consistent snorers. For most of them, this is just a natural part of their sleep. However, loud, aggressive snoring is a sign of something much more serious – sleep apnea. This medical term describes a condition where an individual will stop breathing while sleeping. It occurs in cycles throughout the night and, if left untreated, can be detrimental to the individual. The continual breaks in sleep cycle also lead to daytime fatigue. Understanding sleep apnea and learning to decipher between this condition and traditional snoring can be beneficial for your health.

Stop Breathing While Sleeping: What Is It?

According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep apnea affects more than 18-million adults. The condition is fairly common. What happens is that the body cycles through moments of little to no breathing that may last for a few seconds or even a few minutes. Sleep studies have shown that these cycles can happen as much as 30 times per hour. When an individual starts to breathe again, this is when the loud choking or snoring noise occurs. This chronic condition is a problem because it not only disrupts your sleep cycle, but also cuts off oxygen to the body which can lead to lasting damage.

There are three types of sleep apnea:

  • Central sleep apnea: Less common type of this disorder. It occurs because the brain fails to notify muscles to control breathing. This is a problem involving the central nervous system. Snoring is rarely a side effect of this type of apnea.
  • Obstructive sleep apnea: The most common and easily diagnosed version of sleep apnea is obstructive. This version occurs because the soft throat tissue relaxes when a person is sleeping which leads to a blockage of the airway and therefore causes snoring.
  • Complex sleep apnea: A combination of the central and obstructive types.

How Does It Affect You?

Sleep apnea might not seem like a big problem, after all it is common and snoring itself is not necessarily a problem. However, it disrupts their breathing cycle and sleep cycle. This leads to exhaustion the next day and can cause loss of mental sharpness and productivity. The impact of sleep apnea is chronic sleep deprivation. This can dramatically impact day to day life making it difficult to function through your job. Sleep apnea is a gateway to several different health problems including stroke, diabetes, depression, ADHD, headaches, high blood pressure, and heart failure. It is imperative that any person suffering with this condition get it treated before it worsens.

Signs and Symptoms

Identifying sleep apnea can be difficult if your snoring is not substantial enough to keep your partner awake. Most patients will undergo a sleep study at a medical facility under the watchful eye of sleep care professionals. Before that, you can watch out for some of the major signs and symptoms that you stop breathing while sleeping. These include:

  • Loud, chronic snoring most nights
  • Chronic fatigue during the day
  • Choking or gasping for air
  • Shortness of breath upon waking
  • Dry mouth/sore throat
  • Moodiness/irritability
  • Impotence
  • Difficulty concentrating

Causes and Risk Factors

Treating those occurrences where a person will stop breathing while sleeping is done by addressing the underlying issue that is causing the sleep apnea to begin with. There are several common causes such as an allergic reaction, cardiac arrest, asthma or lung problems, fluid in lungs, and drug overdose. These are very serious conditions which need to be treated accordingly to stop sleep apnea. Other causes include heart attack, head injury, drowning incidents, stroke, nervous system damage, neurological disorders, cardiac arrhythmia, and metabolic disorders.

It should also be noted that some individuals are more prone to these types of problems than others. Sleep apnea is most likely to occur to men who are overweight and over the age of 40. It is also common in women who are overweight. Individuals suffering with nasal obstruction or gastro-intestinal disorders are also more likely to develop this condition because of the way their health problems impact the nose and throat area.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

If you suspect that you are suffering from sleep apnea, then you should seek medical attention for proper diagnosis. Emergency situations may arise such as loss of consciousness, having a seizure, body limpness, feeling drowsy, or skin discoloration. All of these are indications of someone who has stopped breathing for too long. If this happens in a public setting, a certified CPR professional or defibrillator may be available to help restart the flow of oxygen into the body.

Treatment Options

Treatment for this condition starts with a sleep study. This is where you will fall asleep in a medically supervised setting while a machine and doctors monitor your sleep cycles. There are many people who never seek treatment for their sleep apnea. In minor cases, this may not be a problem. However, the information which can be obtained from a sleep professional is considered invaluable to bettering your health and wellness.

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