Health

The Sleep Disorder You May Not Know You Have

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If your sleep has been all over the place lately, it’s likely for good reason. Multiple studies show the coronavirus lockdown has wreaked havoc on nearly everyone’s precious shut-eye, leading to crazy dreams and insomnia. 

But what if it’s more serious than that? If you’ve been struggling with your sleep for a while, here’s how to tell if you need to investigate further.

What is a sleep disorder?

There are different types of sleep disorders, but perhaps the most concerning is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). 

Characterized as repeated episodes of partial or complete obstruction of the throat during sleep, OSA sufferers may stop breathing for a short time during REM, resulting in blood oxygen levels falling. If you wake up gasping or choking during the night, it’s definitely a red flag.

What are the symptoms of a sleep disorder?

Everyone has days when they don’t sleep well, but if you’re consistently tired despite getting a full eight hours sleep, or your partner is complaining about your snoring and Grinch-like attitude, it could indicate OSA. 

This disorder is also likely to cause daytime sleepiness, moodiness, and poor concentration. Even more concerningly, people who experience sleep apnea have an increased risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, type 2 diabetes, depression, and accidents.

How common is sleep apnea?

More common than you think. According to research, approximately 22 million Americans living with OSA. 

Yet, scarily, a large percent of people remain undiagnosed, because many people are unaware they have a problem in the first place.

How is OSA treated?

If a sleep test indicates you have OSA, your doctor will consult with you regarding any underlying conditions, and then you may choose to begin a sleep therapy called Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP). A CPAP device prevents a patient’s upper airway from collapsing during sleep by providing a flow of air through the nose and/or mouth using a specialized mask. 

Can OSA be cured?

You may need CPAP therapy for a short while or for the rest of your life. Everyone is different. But either way, the first step (getting diagnosed) is done! Happy snoozing.

This article originally appeared on our sister site Now to Love.

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