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Health and Fitness News

Waging War for Your Good Sleep

What you can do to catch sleep apnea and stop it in its sleep-stealing tracks.

You wake up tired, then walk around tired all day. The snoring that was once the topic of your spouse’s jokes has become a frustration that causes neither of you to sleep well. While you may think these problems are just a part of life you have to live with, you’re wrong. Because as harmless as these symptoms may seem, they may be caused by sleep apnea. And in case you don’t know, sleep apnea is more than an annoyance. It can actually put your life at danger.

If you suspect you may be living with sleep apnea, don’t ignore the problem and don’t give up hope just yet! Keep reading to get a firm grip on the signs and symptoms and how you can beat this sleep-depriving condition and get the Zs you need.

Behind the Sleepy Curtain

Everyone has a bad night of sleep now and then. But for those with sleep apnea, every night of sleep is a bad night of sleep. In fact, those with sleep apnea rarely get a good night of sleep. That’s because the condition causes an individual to stop breathing for 10 or more seconds, many times every night. Sleep apnea also results in loud snoring and gasping for air as the individual regains breath. As you would expect, every time the person struggles to breathe, gasps for air, or snores, his or her sleep is interrupted. The end result? Difficulty sleeping, an equally difficult time staying awake, increased irritability, experiencing headache in the morning, and struggling to focus for a prolonged period during the day.

In most cases of sleep apnea, the muscles in the throat relax and cover the throat, making breathing stop. This specific condition is known as obstructive sleep apnea. With the second apnea, central sleep apnea, the brain doesn’t communicate properly with muscles responsible for controlling breathing. Some individuals wind up experiencing a combination of both types of sleep apnea, which is known as complex sleep apnea syndrome. Regardless of the type of sleep apnea suffered, if not treated, it wreaks havoc on an individual’s life, resulting in all sorts of unwanted complications. From high blood pressure and liver problems to a higher risk of heart attack and other serious and even deadly complications, sleep apnea is not a condition to be slept on.

Regaining Sleep

Fortunately, sleep apnea doesn’t have to win the battle of your bedtime. Thanks to diagnostic and treatment advances, those who have lived with sleep apnea for years have found hope for a better night of sleep.
The process to overcoming sleep apnea begins with a sleep study. During this study, a sleep expert monitors your body’s vital systems—heart, lungs, and brain. Any breathing issues, arm and leg movement, and lowered blood oxygen levels are noted. The results of the study are then used to help the physician determine an appropriate treatment regimen.

In many cases of sleep apnea, simple lifestyle changes are often enough to overcome sleep apnea and put its symptoms in the past. Good starting points include stopping smoking, losing weight, getting regular exercise, and receiving appropriate treatment of allergies. When home remedies don’t provide relief, a CPAP may be prescribed. With a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine, airways that close while sleeping are kept open, ultimately stopping the pauses in breathing during the night. Severe cases that don’t benefit from a CPAP may require surgical intervention, which removes tissue or restructures areas causing the condition.