Health conditions Your Health & Wellness

If you’re often tired during the day, you could have sleep apnea

Written by Diane Archer

Many people suffer from sleep apnea, particularly older adults.  Sleep apnea is a pausing of breath or shallow breathing while you sleep.  But, because it occurs during sleep, it often goes undiagnosed and untreated. Indeed, it is estimated that up to 80 percent of people with sleep apnea have not been diagnosed for it.

Sleep apnea can be severe, with 30 or more long interruptions in breathing an hour. Or, interruptions can be few and only last for a few seconds. But, these interruptions in your breathing can pull you out of your deep sleep into a light sleep. You then end up with a bad night’s sleep and may feel tired during the day. You might also wake up with a headache.

Sleep apnea, when untreated, is also associated with heart disease and heart deaths, as well as high blood pressure or hypertension. And, it is more prevalent among people with diabetes, coronary artery disease and congestive heart failure.

Your doctor cannot diagnose sleep apnea through a blood test. It is typically diagnosed through a polysomnogram. Once diagnosed, you can usually treat sleep apnea through changes to diet and lifestyle, devices that help you breathe, mouthpieces and surgery.

Most people with sleep apnea have obstructive sleep apnea. During sleep the airway collapses or is blocked. When air squeezes through the blockage it can cause you to snore loudly. People who are overweight are more likely to have it. A small number of people have central sleep apnea. With this condition, the part of your brain that controls your breathing will not send the proper signals and you will not breathe for short periods,

The NIH has a short video to help you better understand what happens to people with sleep apnea.  And, here are seven tips from the National Institutes of Health for getting a good night’s sleep.


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