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Do you ask yourself “Why Am I Tired?” You go to bed at a reasonable hour, think you had a good night’s sleep and yet the next day you are exhausted! Why?
You may have sleep apnea, which means that there are short periods of not breathing (apnea) or having a breathing pattern that is very shallow many times during an hour while asleep. This often occurs during the deepest period of sleep, which is supposed to be the most restful or restorative level. When the apnea periods happen, the oxygen levels in the blood drop low enough so that the body tries to compensate by coming out of that deep sleep in order to take deeper breaths, and restore the oxygen level back to a normal range. Even though the sleep pattern has been changed, the person is not “awake” enough to realize this, and unfortunately, this then creates that feeling of being tired during the day.
Sleep apnea is often referred to as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) because it usually is the tongue and back of the throat closing or “obstructing” as someone sleeps on their back. It is the most common type of sleep apnea and it can have some significant consequences. It is often the reason for daytime accidents due to drowsiness, as well as putting someone at risk for high blood pressure, chronic heart failure, stroke and other problems related to the cardiovascular system. It is far more than just being tired!
Who has it? Most often, OSA is seen in men over 40 and those who are overweight. It usually needs to be diagnosed by a study in a sleep lab and can be managed sometimes by just losing weight or not sleeping on the back. If weight loss is not an issue, one treatment may consist of a positive airway pressure machine, which forces air into the back of the throat opening it up.
So if you know someone that is a heavy snorer, and is constantly tired, they may have OSA and not even realize it.
How’d you sleep last night? And what is your plan for getting a better night’s sleep tonight?
Author: Cheryl A. Acres RN, CCM