More than Just Tiredness: The Surprising Effects of Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a condition where you temporarily stop breathing in your sleep. Your brain usually wakes you up before anything serious happens. People who suffer with sleep apnea are far more tired than otherwise. But the effects of sleep apnea extend beyond tiredness! Sleep apnea can lead to all kinds of serious health problems.
Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type of sleep apnea, which occurs when the soft tissue in the back of the throat collapses, blocking your airway. When this happens, you’re not getting enough oxygen to the rest of your body. Your brain is continually having to “wake up” to make you breathe, which means that you are not getting the rest you need to rejuvenate and heal.
Since you don’t rejuvenate and heal, you are more likely to develop the following conditions:
- Cardiovascular problems: When you stop breathing, the lack of oxygen stresses your heart by raising your heart rate and increasing your blood pressure. This leads to irregular heartbeats, heart attacks, and even heart failure or stroke.
- Diabetes: Your immune system and your metabolism suffer if you don’t get your rest, so you’re more likely to develop diabetes if you have sleep apnea.
- Obesity: When you don’t sleep, your body slows down your metabolism. You will gain weight if you have sleep apnea, and being overweight comes with its own set of problems, including diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
- Inflammation: Your body needs long periods of deep sleep to flush toxins from your blood, muscles, lymph system, and other areas. If it doesn’t have a chance to do this because you keep waking up, the toxins will stay in your body and cause inflammation. Inflammation also increases your chances of having heart problems, and it’ll make you feel tense all over your body because you are literally toxic.
- Depression: You’ll also have a hard time keeping the chemicals in your body balanced. Your body needs sleep in order to create the hormones that naturally stabilize your mood.
- Memory loss: During the night, your brain catalogs the information that you learn throughout the day while you sleep and processes all the stimulus you take in. This includes processing emotions and thoughts that you are consciously and unconsciously having. It also uses sleep to heal and rejuvenate. So when sleep apnea tugs you in and out of sleep, your brain doesn’t have a chance to do any of these things! Eventually, your memory will begin to suffer.
The Immediate Effects
Obviously you want to discover and treat your sleep apnea before any of these serious conditions develop. Here’s what you should look for in the meantime:
- Weight gain
- Loud snoring
- Feeling very tired, to the point of falling asleep at your desk or behind the wheel
- Suddenly waking in the middle of the night feeling out of breath
- Waking in the morning with a dry mouth or headache
- Having a hard time remembering things or concentrating
- Experiencing mood swings
If you suspect that you have sleep apnea, you should immediately contact a nose, throat, or oral expert, like your dentist. He or she can examine you to determine if you have sleep apnea, and explain your treatment options. Contact York & Bay Dental Office to learn more today!