The Strain of Sleep Apnea

By Dixie Harris, MD

We are people constantly on the go, filling our schedules to the brim with activities and responsibility, leaving less and less time for sleep. Getting enough healthy sleep is crucial to our overall health. Many problems and issues can be avoided when healthy quality sleep is made a priority.

Get a Better Night's Sleep
Many men and women suffer from a disorder that hinders healthy sleep patterns and don’t even know it. This condition is called Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), and an estimated 22 million Americans suffer from it.

OSA is a disorder where the airway collapses during sleep and causes a repeated pause in breathing. It can actually occur 30 or more times per hour. This is a serious problem that strains the heart and, if untreated, can increase the risk of stroke, heart attack, heart disease, and high blood pressure.

Ask yourself if you suffer from some of the following symptoms.

  • Are you constantly feeling tired during the day?
  • Do you awake with morning headaches?
  • Are you overweight or have a large neck, crowding your airway?
  • Do you snore loudly or wake up gasping and choking at night?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may have OSA and should seek treatment. OSA can be treated with a therapy called Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP). The CPAP gives a continual flow of air pressure, keeping the airway open, and allowing constant breathing and healthy sleeping. 

Not only will the CPAP treatment eliminate the strain on the heart, and decrease the risk for stroke, heart attack, heart disease, and high blood pressure, but it also will help you enjoy a quality night’s sleep and awake happy with improved energy for the day.

Here are some tips for getting a good night’s rest and reducing the symptoms of OSA.

  • Sleep on your side instead of back
  • Raise the head of your bed
  • Lose weight if needed
  • Stay on a schedule; wake up and go to bed at the same time every day
  • Create a bedtime routine; read, listen to quiet music, or take a bath
  • Don’t go to bed hungry; eat a light snack, not a large meal
  • Avoid or limit alcohol and caffeine six hours before bed
  • Quit smoking

For more information or questions on OSA treatment, visit the Intermountain Healthcare Sleep Centers or call (801) 855-4598.