Sleep disorders are a medical disorder of the sleep patterns in children and adults. Some sleep disorders are serious enough to interfere with normal physical, mental, social and emotional functioning.
One of the most common sleep disorders is Sleep Apnea.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep Apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts. If you snore loudly and feel tired even after a full night’s sleep, you might have sleep apnea
Sleep Apnea can be caused by the collapse of your upper airway (Obstructive Sleep Apnea) or due to a neurological problem (Central Sleep Apnea).
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
This occurs when the muscles in the back of your throat relax. When the muscles relax, your airway narrows or closes as you breathe in.
The stopping of breathing is called an apnea and will commonly occur hundreds of times per night. From this there are two main outcomes. First is that your heart will come under an enormous strain. Second is that you will suffer from a severely disturbed sleep.
You can’t get enough air, which can lower the oxygen level in your blood. Your brain senses your inability to breathe and briefly rouses you from sleep so that you can reopen your airway. This awakening is usually so brief that you don’t remember it.
You might snort, choke or gasp. This pattern can repeat itself five to 30 times or more each hour, all night, impairing your ability to reach the deep, restful phases of sleep.
A Polysomnography (PSG) or Sleep Study is one of the most common methods used to diagnose sleep apnea and other sleep disorders. A sleep study, which may require an overnight stay at a sleep clinic, monitors sleep state, eye movement, muscle activity, heart rate, respiratory effort, airflow, and blood oxygen levels.
This test is used both to diagnose sleep apnea and to determine its severity.
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The treatment of choice for obstructive sleep apnea is continuous positive airway pressure device (CPAP). CPAP is a mask that fits over the nose and/or mouth and gently blows air into the airway to help keep it open during sleep. This method of treatment is highly effective.