How is America’s Sleep?
Sleep deprivation might not sound that bad once in a while, but it’s actually a serious problem that many people suffer from. On average, Americans get between six and eight hours of sleep a night. Some feel wonderful with five or less hours, whereas others always have the need to sleep 9 or more daily.
Unfortunately, sleep apnea greatly inhibits a person’s capability to sleep throughout the night, and can cause extreme sleep deprivation. At least 75% of adults have reported at least one sleep apnea related symptom, and almost 25% of people sleep in separate rooms due to their partner’s sleep habits, causing them to lose nearly 50 minutes of sleep each night.
There are many side effects of sleep deprivation that are quite dangerous, which include:
- extreme drowsiness
- muscle aches and fatigue
- confusion and/or memory lapses
- headaches and migraines
- hand tremors
Patients with sleep apnea are three times more likely than general population to get into a motor vehicle accident, as 60% of adults still drive even while drowsy.
Snoring, which is a large side effect of sleep apnea, will have negative effects on those who sleep in the same or surrounding rooms. Spouses actually reported increased pain complaints and a reduced quality of life which significantly increased when snoring was treated. Those who report snoring should have a sleep study conducted, as they have a much greater chance of having sleep apnea than those who don’t snore.
Snoring. So. Loud.
Loud snoring and sleep issues are not a healthy combination. Whether caused by snoring, being woken up by someone who’s snoring, or problems with sleep apnea, nights of missed sleep can build into a sleep deficit over time. People with a sleep deficit are unable to concentrate, study, and work effectively. They can also experience emotional problems like depression.
Commonly Asked Questions About Sleep Apnea
What is sleep apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the airway completely collapses, blocking airflow into the lungs. The harder someone tries to breathe, the tighter the airway seals. This airway obstruction persists until the brain partially awakens the person. Unconsciously, he or she will close the jaw, returning the tongue and throat to a normal position. The sleep apnea cycle – falling asleep, jaw relaxing, airway collapsing, unconsciously awakening with a gasp, falling back asleep – can repeat itself one time per minute in severe cases. With a blocked air passage, an individual cannot receive enough oxygen. Both the awakenings and oxygen deprivation can then trigger other health problems.
What is snoring?
When the jaw opens and the tongue falls into the back of the throat, the airway narrows, forcing air through the smaller opening. This creates vibrations in the throat known as snoring.
What are the symptoms of sleep apnea?
- Snoring with pauses in breathing (apnea)
- Excessive daytime drowsiness
- Gasping or choking during sleep
- Restless sleep
- Problem with mental function
- Poor judgment/can’t focus
- Memory loss
- Quick to anger
- High blood pressure
- Nighttime chest pain
- Problem with excess weight
- Large neck (>17″ around in men, >16″ around in women)
- Airway crowding
- Morning headaches
- Reduced libido
- Frequent trips to the bathroom at night
If I snore, do I have sleep apnea?
Not all people who snore have sleep apnea, and not all sleep apnea sufferers snore.
What are the dangers of sleep apnea?
Some of the dangers of sleep apnea are chronic sleepiness, strokes, heart attacks, heartburn, morning headaches, depression, high blood pressure, and impotence.
What is your snore score?
Your answers to this quiz will help you decide whether you may suffer from sleep apnea:
- Are you a loud and/or regular snorer?
- Have you ever been observed to gasp or stop breathing during sleep?
- Do you feel tired or groggy upon awakening, or do you awaken with a headache?
- Are you often tired or fatigued during the wake time hours?
- Do you fall asleep sitting, reading, watching TV, or driving?
- Do you often have problems with memory or concentration?
If you have one or more of these symptoms you are at higher risk for having obstructive sleep apnea.
Source: American Sleep Apnea Association
How to stop snoring?
Even if you don’t have sleep apnea, there are plenty of reasons to tackle a snoring problem. For one, it can get in the way of your bed partner’s rest — and a sleep-deprived partner is not a happy one! It can also affect your own sleep quality and health. The good news? There are plenty of tips and treatments that can help. Give us a call for a consultation or ask Dr. Butler at your next visit.