Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder that can cause serious and sometimes life-threatening health problems. According to the National Sleep Foundation, more than 18 million American adults have sleep apnea of some sort, with obstructive sleep apnea being the most common. So why are so few people talking about it?
If the tragic death of Carrie Fisher is any indication, we definitely aren’t raising enough awareness about sleep apnea as a whole. Though drugs were a contributing factor in Carrie Fisher’s death, the coroner’s report listed sleep apnea as the main cause. It was not specified what type of sleep apnea she had, but since obstructive sleep apnea is the most widespread, it’s certainly worth educating yourself about it and what you can do if you suspect you have it.
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What is obstructive sleep apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea is a disorder in which your airway collapses or becomes blocked while you sleep, which causes you to have one or more pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while you sleep, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Despite the fact that so many people suffer from it, it often goes undiagnosed, since doctors can’t typically diagnose it during routine office visits. It’s usually a family member or a significant other that notices signs of obstructive sleep apnea in a person.
Is obstructive sleep apnea dangerous?
It certainly can be. According to Psychology Today, early recognition and treatment are so important when it comes to sleep apnea because it can be potentially be associated with irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke. The people most at risk for sleep apnea are those who snore loudly and also are overweight, or have high blood pressure, or have some type of abnormality in the nose, throat, or upper airway. The biggest signs of sleep apnea include loud snoring, obesity, and excessive daytime sleepiness. Anyone experiencing such symptoms should be referred to a specialized sleep center that can perform tests to figure out if obstructive sleep apnea is indeed the cause.
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Is obstructive sleep apnea curable?
So let’s say you do have obstructive sleep apnea. The good news is that it is possible to cure it, according to Harvard Health Publications. In some cases, obstructive sleep apnea can be cured by losing a significant amount of weight. As some patients struggle to lose weight, many professionals recommend they use a continuous positive airway pressure device while they sleep in the meantime. Another option of ridding yourself of the condition for good is surgery to remove excess tissue from the palate or throat. However, surgery comes with side effects, so it’s often viewed as a last resort.
NEXT: See the best tricks to help you sleep better tonight below.
sleep tricks rub hands shiatsu
1. Banish sleep-robbing pain.
Are aches from arthritis or overworked muscles stopping you from falling asleep? Try applying gentle pressure with your thumb to specific points on your hand, a technique called "self-shiatsu." Canadian scientists say it's so effective at soothing pain and making you drowsy that some study volunteers actually fell asleep while doing it!
sleep tricks walking
2. Stop sudden wake-ups with faster walks.
If you're a light sleeper who wakes up at the slightest snore or car honk, walk faster during the day. Fitting in 60 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise daily (done in as little as five minutes at a time) cuts nighttime awakenings by 21 percent, reports the Journal of Sport and Health Science.
sleep tricks crossword puzzles
3. Wake up more refreshed with puzzles.
You know doing crosswords, learning a language, or stimulating your brain in other ways sharpens memory and concentration. Now there's another reason to do them: They boost the quality of your sleep, so you sleep more deeply and wake up more refreshed, reports the journal Sleep Medicine.
sleep tricks warm pajamas
4. Fall asleep faster by warming your pajamas.
Toss your PJs in the dryer on low for 10 minutes before turning in, and you'll fall asleep about seven minutes faster and enjoy deeper, more restorative sleep, reports the journal Sleep Medicine.
sleep tricks socks
5. Warm your socks, too!
Wearing warm socks to bed helps you fall asleep far faster. As Dutch researchers explain, the extra warmth on your feet draws heat away from your body's core faster, setting off your body clock's "go-to-sleep" signal.
sleep tricks hardcover book
6. Unwind easily with a hardcover book.
Reading before bed helps you unwind, ushering in deeper sleep, but the effect is negated if you use a light-emitting e-reader, such as an iPad or Kindle! If you can't give up your e-reader, try wearing reading glasses with with blue-light-blocking lenses, which help stop melatonin from dipping.