OSA is considered one of the most serious sleep problems, characterized by a repeat pattern of pauses in breathing while asleep. This is due to the throat and upper airway collapsing or being obstructed in some way. It is most commonly associated with a lack of oxygen in the blood. The sufferer will generally wake up suddenly gasping for air.
What happens during sleep to sufferers of OSA is that the muscles along the throat and upper airway (used to control the tongue) become too relaxed resulting in the airways becoming too narrow. Not enough air is able to get through, thus the sufferer gasping for air. Snoring can be a result of this as well.
Usually in severe cases when breathing has actually stopped, the person is unaware and the brain reacts to the decreased level of oxygen and wakes the person up. The length of time that the person was not breathing can range from a few seconds to as long as 2 minutes. If somebody suffers from OSA this can happened many many times during the night.
Thus sufferers are quite often very sleepy due to constant disruption during sleep and this can disrupt their lifestyle quite considerably.
Do I have OSA?
• Very loud snoring is the first sign of OSA.
• There is quite often a pattern, loud snoring, followed by no snoring and then gasping for air.
• Also, due to the disrupted nights sleep people who suffer from OSA will generally always feel tired and feel very sleepy during the day.
• Sufferers have difficulty staying awake during the day regardless of how much sleep they are getting at night.
• Sufferers are susceptible to mood swings and can suffer depression and high irritability.
OSA is quite often associated with impotence and menstrual cycle irregularities.
Treatment for OSA
• Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)
Most effective treatment and relief is immediate. Air is pumped via a nasal mask through the airways and the slight pressure stops snoring and prevents apneas. This treatment would be necessary always in order to treat this sleep problem.
Surgery can be performed but success has not been reported for all cases of OSA.
• Oral Devices
These are temporary measures to relieve snoring but do not inhibit the progression on OSA which tends to get worse with age.
• Weight Loss
OSA has been associated with obesity due to the fact that fatty deposits in the throat will more likely cause the airways to collapse. Similarly more weight around the abdomen will inhibit breathing which will lead to breathing difficulties generally but more so when asleep.
• Quit Smoking
Not only can smoking cause sleep apneas but it is a considerable health risk anyway as it damages our vital lung tissue. So smokers have lung difficulties anyway.
• Reduction of Alcohol
Anything that has a relaxing effect on your bodily reflexes could inhibit your body from waking up during an episode of OSA therefore should be avoided before bedtime and at night. Also consider stopping the use of sleep pills or any other drugs that affect breathing.
OSA can be a life threatening condition if left untreated. Please see your medical practitioner if you think you have OSA. Complications from OSA are heart attacks, strokes, irregular heartbeat, hypertension, loss of sex drive and constant urination at night.
This is a disorder where you will feel tingling sensations in one or both legs during sleep, mainly in the calf but it can be felt in the thighs as well. It is an uncomfortable feeling and people want to move their legs constantly to try and release the discomfort. This brings about sleep problems making it particularly difficult to fall asleep.
Symptoms can be felt during the day also after sitting for long periods of time or when very relaxed. This is inhibiting in itself as this can restrict the amount of time that one can be sitting or traveling and can be very disruptive. This can lead to anxiety and feelings of depression.
RLS is reportedly a hereditary condition and in these cases (30% of all RLS sufferers) the symptoms are more persistent and therefore more difficult to treat.
Pregnancy can bring on RLS and will usually disappear once the baby is born.
Low iron levels or anemia can cause RLS, and symptoms generally will improve on increasing iron levels.
People who suffer from chronic disease such as diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis, are more likely to develop RLS.
There are no tests available to determine whether you have RLS but you medical practitioner will conduct several tests to rule out other conditions.
Treatment for RLS
• Severe RLS needs to be treated with prescription drugs, there are several on the market.
• In less severe cases home remedies can produce some results. Hot baths, leg massages, heat or ice packs, asprin, regular exercise and not drinking coffee. Vitamin E and calcium pills are also helpful.
• Drinking less alcohol or coffee can decrease RLS symptoms.
Insomnia is characterized by the inability to fall asleep regardless of how tired you are. It is characterized as one of the many sleep problems if it continues for more than a month, every night.
Insomnia cause issues because our bodies need sleep every night in order to function properly.
Lack of sleep leads to lack of energy and alertness the next day. And it is incredibly frustrating to lie awake for hours on end when all you want to do is fall asleep!
Do I have Insomnia?
Continually having sleep problems like difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep is the first sign of insomnia.
Waking up very early in the morning and not being able to get back to sleep is another classic sign.
Causes of Insomnia
• Mental health problems ie. Depression or anxiety/high stress level
• Physical pain from diseases
• Extreme temperatures
• Out of routine patterns of sleeping
• Caffeine late in the day or at night can lead to difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep
• Smokers generally take longer to get to sleep than non smokers, nicotine being a stimulant
• Prescription drugs for weight loss or cold and flu medication can keep people awake
• Alcohol can cause a bad nights sleep
• Lifestyle and irregular work hours have an impact on sleep also, particularly for shift workers
• A lazy lifestyle and not doing much can lead to sleep problems
• Overuse of sedatives. Short term use can have some affect but in the long term could actually lead to a decrease in quality of sleep.
• Living in a noisy area, too much street noise, planes flying over too much light shining into bedroom, can have an impact on sleep even if they do not cause waking
• Illnesses, physical and mental can lead to sleep problems, and tend to need medications other than those to treat insomnia and treatment is needed for the underlying issue, not insomnia
• Breathing difficulties at night can cause insomnia such as Obstructive Sleep Apnea, so treating this will usually deal with the problem
• Heartburn can bring on insomnia if you experience this try sleeping on two pillows to raise your head as lying flat can make heartburn worse
• Avoid coffee or caffeinated drinks late in the day
• Avoid alcohol when tired and do not mix with other medications such as sleeping pills
• Only go to bed when really tired
• Exercise regularly, but not close to bedtime. Try to exercise 5 hours before going to bed
• Get into a routine and try to go to bed and get up at the same time every day
• Only sleep and have sex in the bedroom
If your sleep problems continue for over a month and happens most nights and is significantly affecting your daily schedule seek assistance from a medical practitioner.