Sleep Without Breathing
Most of the times, we are unaware with our sleeping behaviors, the manner of sleeping, our positions and most especially of our breathing. It is in this way that we hardly know that we are already suffering from a certain sleeping disorder. Yes, even in our sleep, we sometimes suffer from a disorder which can’t be easily detected because of us being unconscious about it. One of the most common sleeping disorders already known is the sleep apnea.
“Apnea” is a Greek word which means “without breathing”. Sleep Apnea then is a disorder wherein a person acquires lapses in breathing during his sleep. These pauses, which are called “apnea”, last for several seconds to minutes. It results for a person to miss his breaths and this event happens repetitively the whole time he is asleep. The pauses in breathing of a person suffering from sleep apnea would usually last 10 to 20 seconds or even more. It would typically be observed to arise for about 5 to 30 times or more every hour. After the event, the person will then be back to his normal breathing.
People suffering from this condition would have a disruptive sleep since they would usually move out of having a deep sleep into a light sleep once their breathing stops or becomes shallow. It will then result for having low quality of sleep making the person feel tired and sleepy all throughout the day.
It is hard for a person to know whether he has this kind of disorder since it only happens while he is asleep. However, family members or other people will be able to notice the abnormality in the breathing of the person. This disorder is commonly undiagnosed. Persons with sleep apnea will not be very apparent and doctors can’t usually notice the existence of this condition in a person in ordinary medical checkups. Sleep Apnea can only be diagnosed through a special test called polysomnogram or a sleep study wherein the patient will be examined and observed overnight.
There are three known kinds of Sleep Apnea; Central, Obstructive and Complex. The most common of which is the Obstructive Sleep Apnea wherein the walls of soft tissue found at the level of the throat of the human airway collapsed or blocked the passage. This results to shallow or even gaps in breathing. When the person tries to breathe again, the air would be compressed trying to pass the blockage which in turn causes the snorting or choking sound. Men and the elderly are those who are mostly affected by the obstructive sleep apnea. Also, increased risk of having OSA is attributed to those who are overweight and active smokers. Persons suffering from diabetes and the so called borderline diabetes are three times more prone to having OSA.
Central Sleep Apnea, or also known as Cheyne-Strokes respiration, breathing is affected by the imbalance of the brain’s respiratory control. Lack of quick reaction from the blood levels of carbon dioxide and the neurological feedback mechanism resulted to an abnormal respiratory rate. No effort of breathing or chest movements and struggling will be seen. However, after this episode, the person will have faster breathing for a time.
On the other hand, Complex sleep apnea is the combination of obstructive and central sleep apnea wherein a person experiences from a transition of having a central to obstructive sleep apnea during their entire sleep.
Persons suffering from sleep apnea will be more prone to high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, obesity and even diabetes. The heart will be very much affected by the disorder resulting for higher risk of heart failure and irregular heartbeats.
Changing lifestyle, surgery or using breathing devices can treat sleep apnea.