Most people don’t exactly love getting up early in the morning, but for you, it’s an absolute struggle every single day. You’ve practically worn out your snooze button, and no amount of coffee and energy drinks is able to take the edge off of your exhaustion. You’re seemingly sleeping through the night, so what is the problem? If you can never seem to get enough rest, then you might be one of the 25 million Americans struggling with sleep apnea. About 80% of the people with the condition have no clue that they do, but if you notice one or more of the following 5 signs, then the culprit is most likely sleep apnea in Lincoln.
But First, What Exactly is Sleep Apnea?
When a person has sleep apnea, they experience brief but frequent lapses in breathing during the night that constantly interrupt their sleep cycle. Most of the time, this is due to the soft tissues in the mouth and throat collapsing together and cutting off the airway, which forces the body to partially wake up to restore normal breathing. In addition to making a person feel like they haven’t slept, many other symptoms point to sleep apnea as well:
Loud Snoring Every Night
Snoring occurs when air passing through the throat vibrates the nearby tissues. People with sleep apnea tend to snore quite a bit because their airway is constantly becoming obstructed, and they often wake up with a snort or cough as well. If you haven’t noticed this, anyone who sleeps near you certainly has!
Many things happen to the body when the breathing is cut off during the night, and chief among them is that the heart goes into overdrive because it is trying to pump the limited oxygenated blood throughout the body. This can lead to a spike in blood pressure that lasts for several hours even after a person wakes up, drastically increasing their risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke.
Sleep is when the brain organizes all of the information from the day so it can be easily recalled later. Without it, “brain fog” can set in, making it difficult to remember even the simplest things.
Your brain needs adequate rest in order to have the energy to focus on specific tasks for a long time. Otherwise, it’s very easy for a person to become distracted, which can drastically cut down on their productivity.
Weight Gain/Trouble Losing Weight
When the body is sleep deprived, this actually throws off the production of two very important hormones: leptin and ghrelin. One lets you know when you’re hungry, and the other tells the brain that you’re full. For people who aren’t getting enough sleep, leptin increases beyond normal levels, and ghrelin decreases. This means that a person will not only feel much hungrier, but they will also need to eat more to become full, which can make someone consume hundreds of extra calories a day.
What Should You Do?
If any of these signs sound familiar, what should you do next? The answer is simple: call your doctor. Sleep apnea is very treatable, and getting control of it sooner than later will greatly benefit your overall health as well as your quality of life. Explain your issues to your doctor, and they’ll likely recommend you have a sleep study done. This will help you get an official diagnosis for sleep apnea. If it turns out that you do have the condition, your doctor will help you find the right treatment.
Even if you’re just experiencing one or two of the symptoms listed above, it can be a tremendous burden on your day-to-day life. Rather than struggling through another exhausted morning, contact your doctor right away. With the right treatment and enough sleep, who knows, you might even become a morning person!
About the Author
Dr. Claire Haag is the only dentist in Lincoln who has Diplomate status in the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine, making her uniquely qualified to help patients overcome both snoring and sleep apnea. She does so by providing high-quality, custom-made oral appliances. If you suspect that you might have sleep apnea, she can help you get a definitive diagnosis as well as provide treatment if needed. For questions, she can be reached through her website.