Resources/FAQ

Resources

The Lung Association – A great educational stop for any further questions you may have after visiting our site.

ResMed Sleep App – compare a night’s sleep with that of a person who has sleep apnea with this handy app for the iPhone.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by partial or complete obstruction of the airway. A person with sleep apnea stops breathing or has pauses in their breathing during sleep for 10 seconds or longer. When a pause in breathing occurs, the brain signals the patient to briefly wake up, which clears the airway and allows breathing to resume. There may be choking or snoring sounds.
    • EXCESS WEIGHT
    • SMOKING
    • HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE
    • AIRWAY STRUCTURE
    • MIDDLE AGE (50+)
    • GENETIC INHERITANCE
    • GENDER
      Males and menopausal women are two times more likely to develop obstructive sleep apnea.
    • LARGE NECK CIRCUMFERENCE

A neck circumference of 17 inches (43 cm) or greater is considered large.

  • EXCESSIVE DAYTIME SLEEPINESS

Excessive sleepiness is the most common complaint from those suffering with OSA. Excessive sleepiness causes feelings of drowsiness and sluggishness most days to the point where an individual may fall asleep for short periods throughout regular daily activities. This excessive sleepiness often interferes with daily life and relationships. Excessive fatigue can also increase risk of vehicle and workplace accidents.

  • LOUD SNORING

The most common symptom of sleep apnea is snoring. But not everyone who snores has OSA. Snoring that is associated with OSA is extremely loud and there is often snoring, choking, or gasping sounds that may cause a person to briefly wake up.

  • NIGHTTIME CHOKING & GASPING

A person with OSA will have an apneic event, which are breathing pauses, more than 5 times an hour during sleep. During a breathing pause, the throat closes waking the individual suddenly causing gasping, coughing and choking sounds.

  • SOCIAL AND MARITAL PROBLEMS

Obstructive sleep apnea can have a major impact on family and friends. People with untreated OSA are less likely to engage in social activities and physical exercise because they are too tired and irritable. A bed partner might choose to sleep in a separate bedroom because of the loud, bothersome snoring associated with OSA.

  • DECREASED SEX DRIVE

 

  • GASTROESOPHAGEAL REFLUX DISEASE (GERD)

Also known as heartburn, OSA results in airway pressure changes that can cause reflux to occur. When the airway collapses, pressure increases in your chest and belly, causing acid to escape from your stomach and into the esophagus.

  • RESTLESS SLEEP / HEAVY SWEATING

Patients are often restless. It is common for people with untreated obstructive sleep apnea to wake up in the middle of the night short of breath and sweaty.

  • WITNESSED APNEA

An apneic event is a pause in breathing during sleep. Breathing pauses during sleep can last from a few seconds to minutes. it is often the bed partner who observes the breathing pauses.

  • DEPRESSION AND MEMORY LOSS

The brain does not get the rest it needs when it is continuously woken up from sleep. Depression is very common in people with untreated OSA. People with OSA can also have anxiety, memory problems, difficulty concentrating, exercise irritability, and slower reaction times.

If left undiagnosed, sleep apnea puts you at an increased risk of the following:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Irregular heart beat
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Weight gain
  • Deteriorating memory and concentration
  • Mood disorders
  • Worsening asthma

What is the real danger of untreated sleep apnea?

  • Severe untreated sleep apnea is more dangerous than smoking heavily as it can lead to more intricate health issues.
  • Patients with severe obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and are non-compliant with CPAP therapy, have a higher mortality rate when compared to heavy smokers.

Sleep hygiene is a term used to mean good sleeping habits and practices. Here are the ones we recommend.

  1. Keep a regular sleep schedule, even on the weekends or your days off.
  2. Keep your room cool. The best temperature for sleeping is 18C.
  3. Avoid taking naps during the day. If you must nap, no more than 20 minutes.  It can disturb the normal pattern of sleep and wakefulness.
  4. Avoid stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol too close to bedtime. While alcohol is well known to help the onset of sleep, it disrupts sleep quality. And remember, chocolate has caffeine!
  5. Exercise can promote good sleep. Vigorous exercise should be done in the morning or late afternoon. A relaxing exercise, like yoga, can be done before bed to help get a restful night’s sleep.
  6. Avoid having large meals close to bedtime. Dietary changes can also cause sleep problems.
  7. Ensure adequate exposure to natural light. Light exposure helps maintain a healthy sleep-wake cycle.
  8. Establish a regular, relaxing bedtime routine. Don’t bring your problems to bed.
  9. If you cannot get to sleep within 20-30 minutes, don’t just lie there. Get up and read something boring, then try again.
  10.  Associate your bed with sleep. It’s not a good idea to use your bed to watch TV, listen to the radio or read.
The gold standard of treatment for Obstructive Sleep Apnea is Continuous Positive Airway Pressure or CPAP therapy. A CPAP machine is a medical device that provides positive pressure to keep the airway open.