Sleep apnea is sleep disorder that can cause a host of serious medical problems if left untreated. If you suffer from sleep apnea, you actually stop breathing during sleep, sometimes hundreds of times each night. People who are at risk for sleep apnea are people who are overweight, have high blood pressure, smoke, or drink too much alcohol. If you are middle-aged and male, you’re also more likely to suffer from sleep apnea. Sleep apnea can also run in families.
It’s all about your air intake
When you are asleep your muscles relax. All your muscles, including the ones in your throat. When your throat muscles relax too much, they sink back and block your airway, stopping your breathing. The sensors in your brain, always on call to work the involuntary muscles that keep you alive, wake you up to restart your breathing. These awakenings, sometimes occurring hundreds of times each night, are often so brief you??re not even aware of them. But they rob you of the deep sleep you need to recharge.
The sleep deprivation that sleep apnea causes affects more than just your ability to function safely and productively during your day, it can up the risks of developing serious medical problems like heart disease, diabetes and some cancers.
New research links asthma to sleep apnea
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin recently concluded a study to investigate the relationship between asthma and sleep apnea.
Over 8 years they observed 733 men and women between the ages of 30 and 60, none of whom had sleep apnea at the start of the study. Of the 733 people, 201 had asthma when the study began. Of those, 61 had developed asthma as children. Every 4 years the researchers evaluated the study participants using sleep questionnaires, sleep labs can health assessments.
After ruling out the other factors that can cause sleep apnea, the researchers found that those who had asthma had a significantly higher risk of developing sleep apnea. 1.7 times higher to be exact. For the people whose asthma had developed during childhood, their sleep apnea risk was almost doubled to 2.34 times more likely.
Your dentist can treat sleep apnea
The good news is that sleep apnea can be treated. And you may be surprised to hear that your dentist could be the best person to treat your sleep apnea. By carefully evaluating your sleep, he or she can offer a host of solutions to get you back to healthy, restful sleep.
If you would like to know more about sleep apnea, its causes and its treatments, download my free e-book, “Sleep Disorder Can Kill You”. Arming yourself with information is a good step in making sure you’re living the healthiest life you can.