Understanding Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is one of the sleep disorders that have the potential to develop into a much more serious medical condition, which is characterized by numerous breathing stops while sleeping. People that suffer from sleep apnea are usually snoring loudly, and they tend to feel tired when they get up in the morning.

understanding sleep apnea

understanding sleep apnea

Specialists divide sleep apnea disorders into two main types. The first type of sleep apnea is obstructive, being a more common form that occurs when the throat muscles relax. The second type is the central sleep apnea and it is much less common, being a form of apnea that occurs when the brain does not send the correct signals to the muscles that control the breathing process.

Once a person thinks he has sleep apnea, he must go and see a doctor right away, as treatment is the only way of making sure the problem does not aggravate. But what are the symptoms of sleep apnea, in the first place? How can a person know if he or she is suffering from this medical condition?

It is important to understand that the symptoms that characterize the obstructive and central apnea can overlap, so differentiating them can be pretty difficult. Among the most common symptoms, there are: sleepiness during daytime (an indirect proof that the person is not getting enough quality sleep at night), snoring, a characteristic of the obstructive sleep form, breathing cessation during sleep which can be noticed by the spouse or by another person, sudden awakenings characterized by shortness of breath (frequently encountered with central sleep apnea), waking up with a dry mouth and throat, headaches, insomnia and attention problems.

People should know that once they start snoring so loud that they disturb others, they should see a doctor. Also, when they wake up due to a shortness of breathing, or experience pauses in breathing during sleep, it is time to go see a sleep specialist. Unfortunately, many people do not consider snoring as something that can be potentially serious. At the same time, not all people diagnosed with sleep apnea will snore while they are sleeping.

As mentioned above, obstructive sleep apnea happens when the muscles of the throat relax. These muscles control the soft palate, the tonsils and the side walls of the throat and the tongue. When these muscles are relaxed, the airway narrows and can even get closed, so smaller and smaller oxygen quantities are inhaled. When there is less oxygen in the blood, the brain will wake the person up, so that the airway will reopen again. These awakenings can sometimes be extremely fast; many people are not usually aware of them, as they happen during the night.

People that suffer from sleep apnea will also make a lot of noises like chocking and gasping. These sounds may be heard many times per hour during sleep at night, and this can explain the morning fatigue, the dizziness and the headaches. If this happens to you, it simply means that sleep did not have the needed quality. Often time, though, the person with obstructive sleep apnea will not be aware of these interruptions during sleep, and may even consider that they have had a good sleep at night.

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Sleep Research News

1. A recent study conducted by the University of Toronto has concluded that sleep disorders that make people act as they dream may be a correct predictor of brain conditions like Parkinson or Alzheimer. One of the doctors that have been involved in the research has stated that the rapid eye movement sleep disorder is very important to consider, as it is directly linked to the neurodegeneration process that can ultimately lead to a brain disease.

People that are affected by this condition will tend to act out the things they dream about. This usually leads to personal injuries, not to mention the implications that the bed partner is also suffering. With normal, healthy persons, the muscles are somewhat paralyzed during sleep, so that such things would not happen.

Doctors believe that when such conditions are considered, the brain diseases can be early diagnosed, so that the patient can receive proper treatment. There are several medications that can help persons whose brains are degenerating; the good news is that an early diagnose means early treatment, and thus less degenerated brain cells.

The study has also helped scientists understand that the neurodegenerative process may start in the brain areas that are controlling the sleeping process. Early conclusions suggest that when this process is not stopped, it progresses to other brain areas that cause other symptoms, which are often encountered with people suffering from Alzheimer and Parkinson.

sleep research news


2. Sleep has proved its important role in fighting infections once again. When people get sick, they try to rapidly recover through getting more sleep. A recent study conducted at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania has showed that sleep actually boosts the immune system and indeed helps us recover from infections much faster.

Doctors have said that naturally, intuitively, sick people would love to get more sleep, but there wasn’t necessarily a scientifically proven study to back that up until now. The first phase of the study was conducted on fruit flies, with some of them being deprived from sleep and others getting enough sleep. The conclusions of the studies show clearly that sleep has a direct and functional effect on the immune response of the organism.


3. Children with ages between six months and eight years have become part of a recent study, which is dedicated to finding the potential links between the increased numbers of TV watching and sleep. In previous studies, the conclusions showed that the kids who have a TV set in their rooms tend to sleep less, in comparison with those that do not have access to a TV in their rooms.

The information was collected right from the mothers of the kids, who were asked how much time do their kids watch TV every day. The first conclusion was that for every additional hour of TV viewing, the children were sleeping 7 minutes less. This particular aspect was verified mostly with boys, rather than with girls. On average, the presence of a TV set in the child’s bedroom is depriving him or her of about thirty minutes of sleep each day.


4. A groundbreaking study has showed that exposing the body to the sunrays is really useful in keeping weight under control. For best results, the specialists involved in the study recommend exposure to the bright morning light. In fact, they even say that the earlier in the morning the exposure is, the more visible the improvements in Body Mass Index values and consequently, the later the exposure, the higher the BMI values were.

The positive impact to early morning light exposure was clearly visible no matter the level of physical activity, the age, sleep timing or other aspects. Even an early morning light exposure that lasts up to half an hour is enough, say the specialists, to visibly decrease the BMI value. The explanation is simple: light is used to regulate metabolism. When the body does not get enough light, the metabolism suffers and the person ends up gaining weight.

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