What is sleep apnea?

sleep apnea

Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder that is fast becoming more widely recognized in mainstream medicine, due to the growing number of individuals suffering from it. Sleep apnea occurs when the soft tissue in the back of the throat collapses, preventing the sufferer from breathing normally – something which typically takes place when the individual attempts to fall asleep.
Sleep was once thought of and described as being the same as turning a computer off, when falling asleep, and then on again when waking up. We now know that there is a lot more to sleep than simply turning your brain off and then on again.

According to Dr. Chakrapani Ranganthan M.D, a fellow at the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and chief of neurology, a good night’s sleep plays a much more integral part in our overall physical and mental health. “Sleep helps to reset our metabolism, bolsters the part of our brain that helps with memory recall and so on. It is vitally important to our wellbeing, says Dr. Ranganathan.

Obstructive sleep apnea results in obstruction and vibration in the airway, making breathing difficult and noisy – snoring. With all this activity, eventually, the tissue collapses resulting in a breathing pause or apnea. This makes it much harder to breathe, and oxygen in the blood is reduced, which informs your brain to wake up. And that is how sleep is disrupted. The consequences of a lack of sleep may manifest in a number of ways, such as daydreaming, general loss of energy and fatigue, poor memory recollection, etc.

This is why the use of medical devices such as Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) devices has grown in popularity. CPAP works by blowing air into the throat via a mask, subtly increasing air pressure in the throat and preventing the airway from narrowing. Using CPAP has become the difference between a normal, healthy life, and enduring a debilitating sleep disorder.