Burning the midnight oil can make anyone feel sleepy the next morning, but if you’re constantly yawning throughout the day even though you go to bed and wake up at reasonable times, you may have a sleep disorder.
Sleep Apnea Explanation
Sleep apnea is a fairly common sleep disorder in which breathing stops and starts repeatedly while the patient is asleep. The American Sleep Apnea Association explains that some sleep apnea patients stop breathing in their sleep hundreds of times throughout the night, and these incidents sometimes last for a minute or longer!
Sleep Apnea Complications
That said, sleep apnea is a potentially serious condition. It often goes undiagnosed, but if left untreated it can lead to serious health conditions including high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and depression. It can even lead to auto accidents or other injuries that are caused by falling asleep due to extreme exhaustion.
Sleep Apnea Symptoms
Tiredness during the day is not the only symptom of sleep apnea. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Does your spouse or partner complain that you snore throughout the night?
- Do you find yourself waking up suddenly and gasping or snorting for air?
- Do you have headaches every morning?
- Is your throat dry when you wake up?
- Do you have trouble concentrating or remembering things throughout the day?
If you have answered “yes” to most of these questions, you may have sleep apnea or another sleep disorder.
Managing Sleep Apnea
In some cases, mild sleep apnea can be managed with weight loss or lifestyle changes, such as a healthier diet or quitting smoking. The use of a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine is one of the most common treatments for sleep apnea. The CPAP delivers air pressure through a mask that is worn over the nose during sleep.
Sleep studies, or polysomnograms, are tests to diagnosis sleep disorders. They generally involve spending the night sleeping at a sleep laboratory or sleep center. Typically, these studies will be ordered after you have seen a healthcare provider at a clinic visit and have discussed your sleep problems. These tests are the best means in understanding how you sleep.
If you think that you may have sleep apnea, discuss your concerns with your primary care physician or call our free physician referral service Consult-A-Nurse® to find a doctor and make an appointment. You can also contact the St. Petersburg General Hospital Sleep Disorders Laboratory at 727-341-4851.