Sleep Apnoea is a condition in which a person’s breathing stops momentarily during sleep. It’s caused by the muscles of the back of the throat and tongue collapsing during sleep and blocking the airways. Sound scary? It kind of is.
Breathing can stop for anywhere between 10 seconds or longer causing you to wake, gasp for breath, then fall back asleep. Often the cycle is continuous causing a fragmented sleep leading to fatigue.
In Australia, about one in four men over 30 will experience some degree of sleep apnoea. But the condition can be hereditary, so females are no immune.
Typical symptoms of sleep apnoea include: snoring and holding the breath during sleep. Extreme fatigue and needing to sleep during the day are also symptoms. When it’s severe, the condition can lead to an increased risk of falling asleep while driving. Difficulty concentrating and feelings of irritability and depression may also result.
Various physical and lifestyle factors may lead to sleep apnoea. These include:
Being overweight – particularly if you carry weight around the neck
Drinking alcohol – especially in the evenings as it causes muscle relaxation
Smoking – all round, just bad
Having a receding lower jaw or enlarged tonsils
Having low levels of thyroid hormone
Having a blocked nose
To diagnose sleep apnoea, your GP will ask about your symptoms and examine you. You may be referred to specialist or sleep clinic where your sleep will be monitored.
Lifestyle changes, mouthguards, facial masks and surgical correction can all be used to treat this condition. And it is TREATABLE.
For more infomation, talk to your GP or check out Sleep Disorders Australia http://www.sleepoz.org.au