The Link Between Sleep and Health: Exploring Obstructive Sleep Apnea Screening

The Link Between Sleep and Health: Exploring Obstructive Sleep Apnea Screening

Everyone needs a good night’s sleep but not everyone gets it. While the general population is generally plagued with various sleep conditions, one of the most common ones is obstructive sleep apnea, which we’ll frequently refer to as OSA. This disorder affects approximately 39 million in the US alone, with the figure getting even worse around the world. The WHO estimates that the condition affects about 936 million people. All in all, the numbers tell us one thing – it’s about time OSA gets a lot more attention than it does now, which is the purpose of this article today.

But what is obstructive sleep apnea anyway? 

In order to fully understand what OSA is, it’s important to explore how our bodies, and our respiratory symptoms in particular work when we’re asleep. Generally, breathing is not primarily a conscious activity. This means that your brain will still remember to tell your body to breathe, even when you’re not outrightly giving it instructions. It’s very different from a conscious action such as moving your limbs or head in a particular direction. 

However, if you have sleep apnea, sometimes the brain signals are not as functional as they should be , so sometimes your body “forgets” to breathe.  In this case, this would be called central apnea. However, if this happens because of blockages in your airway, then it qualifies to be obstructive sleep apnea. Either way, these breathing interruptions can happen up to 5 times per hour of sleep, according to average estimates from  Johns Hopkins Medicine, with each episode usually lasting at least 10 seconds. 

It’s fascinating to note that the term “apnea” is actually Greek, and it loosely translates to “breathless” so it’s not hard to put two and two together to understand why it’s named as such. 

Signs that you may have obstructive sleep apnea

Well, snoring is one of the biggest giveaways, and we often see it in the majority of patients who end up having the condition.  In fact, according to a report by Cleveland Clinic, 9 in 10 patients who have OSA tend to exhibit snoring. 

While most OSA patients often snore, it doesn’t mean that all snoring is related to the condition. You’ll find that patients also tend to exhibit other common symptoms that may include: 

  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Waking up feeling extremely fatigued
  • Sudden mood changes
  • Headaches after waking up
  • Night sweats
  • Unusual breathing patterns
  • Insomnia
  • Constant restlessness 

In children, some other symptoms may include unusual sleeping positions, frequent movement during sleep, and bedwetting. No matter what symptoms you or a loved one may exhibit, the best way to know for sure is by actually getting tested.

Better sleep quality equals better health 

When we’re asleep, our bodies are recharging. Much in the same way that your smartphone needs electrical charge to function, so too does your body need rest to give you the energy you need to move, talk, and basically go about your life. 

With OSA, you’ll find it hard to get enough sleep, because your body will keep waking you through the night as it notices you’ve stopped breathing. When that happens, then you may notice that you get fatigued easily and this can get in the way of your daily tasks of living. 

Beyond that, not having enough sleep can also throw off your mood and mental health altogether. When you’re sleep deprived, you’ll become very irritable and this can lead to the amplification of negative emotions such as: 

  • Sadness 
  • Frustration
  • Anger and so on

Over time, OSA can cause sleep problems that eventually cause stress which initiates a host of ripple effects that attract dementia and other types of health problems. 

Why Obstructive sleep apnea screening is essential? 

Many people can have OSA and not even know about it  because not all cases of OSA manifest very visibly. Sometimes, you may have the condition and you may not snore or exhibit any other symptoms. It’s also the case many times that people who have the condition and constantly wake up at night forget why or that they woke up at all. 

It is partly for this reason that regular sleep apnea testing is a great idea. The other reasons are multifold, because OSA can set the stage for more serious conditions, some of which include: 

  1. Heart disease & High Blood Pressure: OSA can cause frequent sleep interruptions, which in turn can cause sudden drops in oxygen levels. When this happens too often, your heart tries to work harder to bring your blood pressure up. Over time, this can damage heart muscles as well as blood vessels.
  2. Obesity: When you’re not getting adequate sleep due to OSA, you tend to have more frequent and stronger sensations of hunger. This is because of how the condition can affect appetite-regulating hormones like ghrelin and leptin. As a result, you may eat more, potentially leading to weight gain.
  3. Stroke: Insufficient sleep can keep your body in a constant state of inflammation, partly also due to the fact that cortisol levels tend to increase as well. Ultimately, this can initiate chain reactions that lead to stroke and hypertension as well.
  4. Diabetes: If you go through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) records, you’ll find countless studies that link irregular sleep patterns, and therefore, by extension, obstructive sleep apnea, to type 2 diabetes in particular. This stems from how the condition can generally encourage glucose intolerance.

If you were on the fence about why OSA screening is necessary, you now have a couple of life-threatening reasons that emphasize just why.

Get screened today with Techindia 

It might seem like a simple problem at the start, but obstructive sleep apnea can really worsen with time. Ultimately, it can even increase the risk of fatality in very severe cases. If left unchecked, it could cause sleep issues that eventually lead to life-threatening problems like heart disease. In a nutshell, obstructive sleep apnea, and other types of sleep disorders are not to be swept under the rug or taken lightly. If you or a loved one has a suspected case of sleep apnea it’s important that you get tested immediately. Even if you don’t have it, regularly screening for OSA is key to ensure it stays that way. Be sure to contact Techindia today to learn how sleep specialists can help you out. 

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