Ninety percent of people who have sleep apnea - a sleep disorder that causes breathing stops while you sleep - do not know they have a problem. They can not even recognize that they have trouble sleeping or suffer from a form of insomnia. You may be completely unaware that you have hundreds of episodes each night when you choke or try to breathe. If you suffer from sleep apnea and sleep disorder that accompanies it, you are more likely to be your sleep partner who first notice your symptoms.
Sleep apnea is generally categorized as one of three types. Obstructive sleep apnea involves physical blockage of your airway; central sleep apnea means that your brain does not transmit properly "breathes" signals to your respiratory system; and mixed sleep apnea is a combination of the two. Obstructive is by far the most common of the three and mixed is by far rare. Whichever type you have, you spend a portion of every night that does not breathe, resulting in some degree of sleep deprivation. Since obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type, we will look at things you can do to improve the problem and its consequences.
Here are some of the things you can do in an attempt to solve the most common types of sleep apnea.
Lose weight. Since additional fat material around the throat is much more likely to cause obstructive sleep apnea, overweight people improve who lose even 10% of their overweight often their sleep qualities significantly.
Stop using alcohol, tobacco and tranquilizers at or near bedtime. Use of these substances increases the likelihood of airway closure during sleep. Yep, sleeping pills can add the likelihood of sleep apnea, which means you end up with a lower sleep quality rather than a better one.
Sleep on your side. Your throat is less likely to collapse involuntarily when you sleep on your side. There are specially shaped pillows available that will encourage you to sleep on your side. Or you can place an item (tennis balls are popular) on the bed which would make you uncomfortable if you roll your back and try to sleep on it.
Get on a firm sleeping plan. If you eliminate distractions in the form of unwanted noise and light and then sleep on a schedule that is not changed from day to day, you will probably find that you have much less problems with obstructive sleep apnea.
If your sleep apnea problem is not solved with any of the tips listed above, discuss your problem with your doctor to see which treatments are most suitable for him or her, possibly including any of the following:
CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine. This means wearing a mask on your face while you sleep. The mask is connected to a CPAP machine that gives you air that has been pressed sufficiently to ensure that your airway is open and you continue to breathe. Over the last few years, these devices have become more comfortable to wear and quieter to sleep close so that many of the "horror stories" you've heard of people who used them are no longer true. Recent enhancements include "bilevel PAP" machines, which reduces the amount of air pressure while breathing and thus makes it easier for some to use them. There are also "autoPAP" machines that adjust the air pressure as needed instead of giving you an uneven flow of air pressure. Your doctor will provide you with the necessary - and comprehensive - instructions on how to use a CPAP machine properly.
Oral devices. For mild to moderate sleep apnea, your doctor may prescribe some form of oral device - like a mandibular recovery device or a tongue holder - that opens your airway by advancing your lower jaw or tongue. These oral devices are easy to use and less difficult a CPAP machine, but sometimes have side effects. You must be equipped for these devices by a dentist who is familiar with their use.
Surgery. For some, the operation may be effective and can even permanently solve the symptoms. Such surgery may mean removing your tonsils, adenoids or excessive tissue near the throat or nostrils. However, you must be aware that all surgery gives rise to complications and infections. For some patients, the operation has also resulted in impaired symptoms. These are things you should discuss in a certain amount of time with your doctor if you are considering a surgical solution to your sleep apnea problem.
Sleep apnea can be a serious life-threatening medical problem that should not be ignored. If nothing else runs while you are drowsy from a night with too much sleep can kill you. And it's not the only risk you face when you suffer from sleep apnea. If self-treatment does not solve the problem quickly, talk to your doctor.