When it comes to sleeping, quality matters just as much, if not more, than quantity. Sleep apnea is a condition in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts. There are two main types of sleep apnea: obstructive sleep apnea, which is where the throat muscles relax, and central sleep apnea, which occurs when your brain doesn’t send proper signals to the muscles that control breathing.
Types of Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type. When the throat muscles relax it causes your airway to get narrow preventing you from getting a full breath. This in turn may lower the blood’s oxygen level. Your brain senses when the body isn’t breathing so it briefly rouses you from sleep to reopen your airway. It happens so quickly you don’t remember waking up. But it can repeat itself anywhere from 5 to 30 times or more each hour, all night long. These disruptions make it impossible to get deep, restful phases of sleep causing the person to feel sleepy during the day.
In central sleep apnea, people might wake up with shortness of breath or have a hard time getting to sleep or staying asleep. People with this type of apnea tend to be more likely to remember waking up.
Sleep Apnea Symptoms
Symptoms of apnea include extreme daytime sleepiness; loud snoring; waking up suddenly short of breath; waking up with a dry mouth or sore throat; problems staying awake; and attention problems.
Sleep apnea afflicts an estimated 18 million people in the United States. In general, sleep apnea affects men more than women. Apnea isn’t just an annoyance; it can be a serious condition. Research indicates that having sleep apnea significantly increases the risk of death. It is also associated with nearly double the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, as well as early death in middle-aged and older men.
Long-term Effect of Sleep Apnea
Even those with mild apnea maybe 17 percent more likely to die. A study conducted by Johns Hopkins University over the course of ten years found that those who suffered from apnea were more prone to high blood pressure, stroke, and heart disease. Men who experienced just 11 minutes of severe sleep apnea per night had double the risk of death among men.
How Chiropractic Medicine Can Help
It has been shown that chiropractic treatments can help apnea sufferers. Dr. Naresh Punjabi, the study’s lead author and an associate professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, says, “With such mounting evidence indicating the range of clinical effects of sleep apnea, awareness amongst health care professionals and the general community needs to increase.”
Chiropractic adjustments, massage, exercise, acupuncture, or a combination of treatments may help by improving the function of the chest muscles and increase blood flow. Your chiropractor can also teach you stretching and strengthening exercises for your neck.