What Is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is when your breathing stops at night. Breathing stops long enough that your brain has to wake up slightly to start breathing again. There are two main types: obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea.
In obstructive sleep apnea, the most common type, your airway collapses at night. This cuts off your access to air, so you can’t breathe. In central sleep apnea, your brain stops sending signals to tell your body to breathe. This is much rarer. It’s possible to have both types at the same time. Sometimes having both types is described as a third type, mixed or complex.
What Are the Dangers?
Sleep is a vital function for almost every aspect of our health. Sleep apnea doesn’t just keep you from getting the amount of sleep you need, it disrupts your sleep cycle, making it hard for your body and brain to reach the deep levels of restorative sleep you need.
This puts people at risk for many serious, even deadly health problems, including:
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- Coronary artery disease
- Heart failure
- Weight gain
- Dementia, including Alzheimer disease
- Car accidents
- Workplace accidents
- Bipolar disorder
The cardiovascular risks are among the most serious complications, and they account for most sleep apnea-related deaths. People are not only more likely to have high blood pressure, but their high blood pressure is less likely to respond to medication.
Low energy and poor impulse control contribute to weight gain, while it can be harder to control blood sugar levels.
People with sleep apnea experience memory problems, but they are also more likely to develop early onset dementia.
Falling asleep behind the wheel or at work can increase a person’s risk of dangerous accidents.
Mood disorders come with increased risk of suicide or violence.
In addition to these risks, it may be associated with elevated cancer risks, although the research is not yet resolved on this.
Diagnosing Sleep Apnea
Many people start to suspect sleep apnea because of the many symptoms it causes, you might experience:
- Waking unrested after a full night’s sleep
- Daytime sleepiness
- Lack of energy
- Loss of motivation
- Memory problems
- Difficulty focusing
- Falling asleep at work or while driving
- Depression or low mood
If you have a sleep partner, they might report other signs of sleep apnea, including:
- Gasping or choking
- Grinding teeth at night
- Restless sleep
Not everyone who snores has sleep apnea. However, the louder your snoring, you are more likely.
However, we cannot diagnose sleep apnea based on its symptoms. Instead, the only way to diagnose is with a sleep test.
At the Michigan Head & Neck Institute, we can help you get a home sleep test. This lets you get tested in the comfort of your own bed. There’s no need for a costly and inconvenient sleep test at a lab. Instead, you can follow the simple instructions to collect information at home that you send to a sleep doctor. The sleep doctor interprets the results and can let you know your diagnosis.
Treating Sleep Apnea
Although sleep apnea is dangerous, it’s also very treatable. There are many possible sleep apnea treatment options, depending on the severity of your sleep apnea.
Concerned about Sleep Apnea in Detroit?
If you think you might have sleep apnea in the Detroit area, let sleep dentists Dr. Richard Klein, Dr. Chad Witkow, and their team help. At the Michigan Head & Neck Institute, we can help you get a home sleep test and find a sleep apnea treatment that is right for you.
Please call (586) 573-0438 or email us today to request an appointment at our office in Warren, MI.