Why Do We Sleep?
Our body needs sleep just like it needs exercise and a healthy diet. When we sleep, it does not mean that our bodies have shut down. It simply means that our body is undergoing restoration and our cells and tissues are repaired. It also rejuvenates our mind for us to get through the day.
For any human being, sleep is critical to the health. An average adult requires at least seven hours of sleep daily.
Unfortunately for some people, getting good sleep can be a problem due to underlying health issues. One of the sleep issues that is common is sleep apnea.
Sleep Apnea – What is it?
When a person suffers from sleep apnea, breathing during sleep is usually disrupted. This is considered a health issue because the passage where air passes through and regulates breathing gets obstructed. When this happens, the brain cannot process the signals to the muscles that control breathing. That’s when breathing stops and then starts at repeated intervals during the night.
Sleep Apnea is taken from the Greek word apnea which means, “want of breath.” This is generally noted in people who snore loudly and pauses in breathing. This condition can become severe if not treated early as it may drastically affect sleep.
How does sleep apnea happen?
When we sleep, the upper portion of the throat muscles is kept open enough to permit air into the lungs and is usually relaxed. For people with sleep apnea, the opening of the airway is narrower. When the muscles in this area relax, the passage closes making it difficult for air to pass through. As a result, the breathing becomes labored and causes loud snores.
Moreover, there are different types of sleep apnea. The two most common is the obstructive and central sleep apnea.
Obstructive sleep apnea happens when the muscles located behind the throat relaxes and closes the airway. Anatomically, these are the muscles supporting the triangularly shaped tissue, the soft palate, the tonsils, the walls on either side of the throat and the tongue. When there is not enough air that passes through, it lowers the level of oxygen. This causes choking and snorting to arouse a person from sleep and to reopen the air passage.
Central sleep apnea is when the brain sends wrong signals to the breathing muscles. This then causes a person to stop breathing for a short period. This causes a person to wake up frequently or have difficulty going to sleep.
Who suffers from sleep apnea?
This sleep problem can affect anyone at any gender and age. However, the condition is commonly noted in men than women. Approximately 18 million people have sleep apnea in the United States, and a majority are middle-aged men.
In spite of this, there are still some factors that contribute to the risk of having sleep apnea. These factors include:
– Being excessively overweight
– Thicker neck
– Genetically inherited narrow air passageway
– Born male
– History of sleep apnea in the family
– Alcohol or sedative usage
– Prone to allergies and congestion
What are the symptoms of sleep apnea?
A person with sleep apnea often doesn’t remember going through the episodes when they sleep at night. However, the most common symptom associated with sleep apnea is usually feeling excessively sleepy during the day. This is because of the poor quality of sleep they get at night due to sleep disturbances. There are other symptoms that indicate sleep apnea as well. These include:
– Excessively loud snores
– Not breathing for a short period
– Feeling not well rested when awake in the morning
– Falling asleep and feeling sleepy at unusual times during the day
– Painful headaches
– Gaining weight
– Loss of focus and concentration
– Unable to remember things
– Changes in personality
– Feeling lethargic
What are the complications associated with sleep apnea?
When the condition is ignored or not treated early, the risk of getting chronic diseases are high. That is why sleep apnea should be considered a serious medical problem. The complications associated include:
– Heart problems and even stroke
– Excessive daytime exhaustion
What are the treatments to manage sleep apnea?
Whether a person is suffering from sleep apnea or not, it is usually diagnosed by taking a study that examines sleep pattern called polysomnogram. The different tests in this examination would show the physical activities in your brain while you sleep.
While there are medical prescriptions to treat sleep apnea, sometimes alternative treatments are also effective. Here are five ways you can start with to treat sleep apnea with natural remedies.
One of the risks of getting sleep apnea is being overweight especially when it’s gained around the neck area. The heavier you are, the more that your air passageway becomes obstructed because of the fatty deposits. If you are obese, make a goal to lose at least 10 percent of your excess weight. Some of the best suggestions are to have a healthy diet consisting of fibers, green leafy vegetables, and lean meat. Regular exercise is also recommended like walking or jogging.
- Use of alcohol, sedatives, and cigarettes should be avoided
These vices are also reported to disturb sleep quality when the muscles around the throat become too relaxed. This results in blockage in the airway making it difficult for breathing. Inflammation that is caused by the toxins in smoke can also cause blockage in the airways. It is best to stop smoking and drink alcohol altogether if you are suffering from sleep apnea.
- Sleep with humidifiers in the bedroom
There have been reports that putting humidifiers in the bedroom decreases snoring and nasal congestions. Humidifiers can help clear sinuses and make air move easily through the breathing passage. Adding essential or eucalyptus oils can also help to naturally open your airways or relief you from a sore throat and stuffy nose.
- Change or adjust your position when sleeping
You can try propping your head up while sleeping to lessen snoring. You can also try to avoid sleeping on your back. Instead, sleep on your with a pillow on your side to decrease episodes of sleep apnea.
- Use herbal remedies
There are three popular herbal ingredients that can help manage sleep apnea. These are lavender, chamomile, and valerian. These ingredients have been reported to help lower sleep apnea and induce better sleep. Natural supplements are also available to help people with sleep apnea as they can induce sleep naturally and quickly. Here are some suggested supplements you can try:
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