Sleep apnea is an extremely common sleep disorder that can have a serious impact on the quality of life and productivity of those who suffer from it. Affecting around 35% of all adults in the United States, sleep apnea is characterized by interruptions in breathing that occur during sleep. While there are a number of different types of sleep apnea, the most common is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). This occurs when the muscles in the back of the throat relax to the point where the airway becomes blocked, causing the person to stop breathing for varying lengths of time. In more severe cases, these interruptions can occur hundreds of times throughout the night.
Daytime Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
Because sleep apnea disrupts the normal sleep cycle, it can have a number of negative effects on the person’s daytime symptoms, including, but not limited to, excessive daytime sleepiness, morning headaches, memory problems, irritability, and difficulty concentrating. In addition, studies have shown that untreated sleep apnea is associated with an increased risk of traffic accidents, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart failure, stroke, and heart attack.
Impact on Productivity
Given the potential risk to a person’s health associated with untreated sleep apnea, it is not surprising that the disorder can also have a significant impact on a person’s productivity. Daytime drowsiness and decreased energy levels can make it difficult for a person to carry out their work duties effectively. In fact, people with untreated sleep apnea are at an increased risk of making errors on the job, and they are more likely to report difficulties in the workplace. Furthermore, studies have shown that people with untreated OSA are more likely to miss work than those without the disorder.
Treatment of Sleep Apnea
The good news is that sleep apnea is highly treatable. Some people with mild cases of sleep apnea may be able to reduce the severity of their symptoms by losing weight, avoiding alcohol and sedatives before bed, and adopting good sleep habits. However, most people with severe sleep apnea will need to see a healthcare professional to receive appropriate treatment. The most common treatment for obstructive sleep apnea is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy. This treatment involves wearing a mask that is connected to a machine that delivers air pressure to keep the airways open during sleep.
Tips for Better Sleep
In addition to receiving appropriate treatment for sleep apnea, there are a number of other steps that people can take to improve the quality of their sleep and reduce the severity of their symptoms. For instance, people with sleep apnea should try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, and they should avoid taking naps. They should also make sure that their sleep environment is free from distractions and noise, and they should try to get plenty of exercise during the day. Finally, people with sleep apnea should avoid caffeine and heavy meals close to bedtime.
Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder that has a serious impact on the quality of life and productivity of those who suffer from it. With the right treatment and some simple lifestyle changes, those with sleep apnea can significantly reduce the severity of their symptoms and improve their overall well-being. If you suspect you have sleep apnea, it is important to talk to your healthcare provider to get the appropriate diagnosis and treatment.