Getting a good night’s sleep is crucial in order for us to function properly day-to-day; quality of sleep is just as important as the amount of sleep you get. It can help your body to carry out important maintenance, and your brain has chance to store memories and repair itself ahead of the next day. For this reason, getting enough sleep is vital for your health and wellbeing.
However, there are many sleep conditions and problems that can prevent us from achieving this. Stress is a huge interference when it comes to sleep, as well as suffering from general illness. In the long run, interrupted sleep can have a negative impact on your health and even contribute to more serious conditions. It is useful to make sure you have the right bedding to create a comfortable and relaxing sleep environment; for example, buying an anti-allergy duvet can help if you are susceptible to allergens.
There is one condition that can really affect your quality of sleep; sleep apnoea. Sometimes known as obstructive sleep apnoea, it is a condition that can cause severe interrupted sleep.
What is sleep apnoea?
Sleep apnoea is a relatively common condition. It is caused by the walls of the throat relaxing and narrowing while you sleep. This naturally interrupts your normal breathing pattern, which leads to a reduced quality of sleep.
There are two types of obstructive sleep apnoea. Apnoea is where the muscles in the throat relax and actually collapse to cause a blockage of your airway. It is known as apnoea when the airflow is blocked for 10 seconds or more. Hypopnoea is the name for a partial blockage of your airway; this is where the airflow is reduced greater than 50% for 10 seconds or more.
How to spot the symptoms
You will probably find that it is someone else who notices your symptoms before you do. Your partner, friend or family member will likely spot the symptoms first, as you are asleep when the symptoms present themselves!
Signs of sleep apnoea can include loud snoring, laboured breathing and repeated short periods where breathing is interrupted, either by snorting or gasping.
During an episode of sleep apnoea, a lack of oxygen to your brain will pull you out of your deep sleep into a lighter sleep or even to an awake state. This can sometimes happen multiple times through the night, which will naturally make you feel very tired the next day. What’s more, you might be unaware that you’re suffering from apnoea in the first place.
Causes and treatment
Most of the time, causes of sleep apnoea is the result of our lifestyle. Being overweight can place a strain on your throat muscles, as well as excess stomach fat leading to breathing difficulties.
Sleep apnoea is more common in men; it’s not known why, but it appears to occur more in men than women. Age can also be a factor; the condition is more common in people aged over 40. Alcohol and smoking can accelerate the symptoms of sleep apnoea, particularly drinking alcohol before bed.
Sleep apnoea is a treatable condition. Making lifestyle changes such as sleeping on your side and cutting down on alcohol can help relieve the condition. You can also use specific devices to increase airflow and increase the available space in your throat.