Breathless at Night
Are you consistently waking up in the morning feeling unrested? Do you suffer from unwarranted fatigue issues during the course of the day? Do you wake up more than five times a night?
If you have answered yes to all three of these questions you may be suffering from the chronic sleep disorder known as sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is a disorder where the patient has short pauses in their breath during periods of sleep.
These pauses in breath cause oxygen levels to drop and slow blood circulation. Sufferers usually return to a normal breathing pattern after a loud snort or choking sound.
Because of this interruption, patients move from a deep sleep into a lighter sleep. During this light sleep they can be easily awakened. This decreases the quality of sleep received.
While the daily symptom of fatigue may not be overly troubling, chronic sleep apnea can cause serious problems such as brain injury, premature aging, a narrowed airway and reduced muscle tone.
People suffering from weight problems may be more likely to be affected by sleep apnea.
Simple solutions to minor sleep apnea include changing your sleeping position, using nasal strips and for those of you willing, singing therapy.
There is also a device known as a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure or CPAP, which acts as a splint to open the patient’s airway during sleep. This device includes a facial mask and an electric bedside breathing machine.
More drastic measures include nasal or throat surgery.
If you believe you may be suffering from this disorder, you should contact your family doctor.