Here’s What’s Going on Inside Your Body When You Suffer from Sleep Apnea
Summary: Sleep apnea is serious and affects more systems in the body than just the airways and the sleep cycle. However, because the functioning of those systems is so essential, sleep apnea becomes one of the worst disorders possible. This blog discusses how the body can be harmed due to lack of sleep. It comes down to more than just daytime sleepiness.
There shouldn’t be any doubt that sleep apnea can be a very serious condition. It is, in fact, potentially life-threatening, and more common than people believe it to be. What is it, and what is happening to the body of those who have sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea means a pause in breathing while sleeping. The pauses can be from a fraction of a second to up to 30 seconds – long enough to signal the sleeper to wake and begin breathing again. In severe cases, this happens as many as 20 or 30 times in an hour, and if the sleeper is very tired, he or she may not be aware of the frequency of these episodes. One is only aware of extreme tiredness and the idea that sleep is not all it should be. Sometimes it takes a bed partner to inform the sleeper of the bad night that has passed.
When all goes well, breathing while sleeping is straightforward and natural. You take a breath in; the air travels through the nose and mouth, down the back of the throat and into the lungs. The process reverses to breathe out again. With no complications, this happens naturally. When there are no complications, all the tubes and airways stay open for the breath to travel. With sleep apnea, these tubes collapse, obstruct the airways and the breath is unable to move. The sleeper gurgles, snorts and gasps his or her way through the breathing process. At best, they are tired the next day. At worst, the condition results in headaches, heart attacks, high blood pressure, strokes, depression and other long-term health risks. Here is why. Lack of oxygen and deprivation of sleep can be harmful to everything that your body depends on.
Deliberately depriving someone of sleep is a known form of torture. The body uses sleep time to rejuvenate itself and the brain, cleansing both of toxins and repairing all the cells from the damage of the day. To do that, it needs to cycle through the complete 90-minute sleep cycle. People who don’t sleep more than 10 minutes without waking are more likely to be depressed and have mental confusion and memory loss than those who do complete their sleep cycle regularly.
Those with sleep apnea also have circulatory problems and a weakened immune system. They are more likely to get infections, have difficulty fighting the infections, have cardiovascular problems, liver disease, sexual dysfunction and disinterest and abnormal LDL cholesterol levels.
If excessive, unexplained daytime sleepiness is making you think that sleep apnea may be affecting your life, then it is a good idea to visit a sleep expert to see what is going on and which of the solutions may help you. There are things that can be done by you through diet and exercise that can keep the air moving through the lungs at night, and there are therapy devices, such as CPAP machines, that will give your breathing an extra boost. Sleep apnea is more common than you might think, and help is available from CPAP Solutions.