sleep apnea risks

Obstructive sleep apnea risks

As more scientists and researchers look into the causes and risk factors of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), it is becoming clear that just about anyone can develop the condition. That said, there are a number of factors and habits that seem to increase the likelihood of someone developing OSA.

Sleep apnea risks in overweight or obese adults and teenagers

One of the key sleep apnea risks is increased pressure on the neck, and this is very common in those who are overweight or obese. Both adults and teens who are carrying around extra weight are at a far greater risk of developing OSA. In fact, of those who have sleep apnea, around 50% are also overweight.

Ageing adults

As we grow older, our sleep patterns change dramatically, and it has been proven that the risk of sleep apnea increases with age. That’s why it’s important that if you notice any changes in your sleeping habits or sleep quality, you are tested for OSA.

People who smoke

Those who smoke are at a far greater risk of suffering from OSA than others. In fact, recent studies have indicated that smokers are three times more likely to have sleep apnea than their non-smoking counterparts. This is because smoking causes fluid retention and inflammation in the upper airway, which encourages the onset of obstructive sleep apnea.

People with sleep apnea in the family

Some studies have suggested that sleep apnea is hereditary and can be passed down within families. This means that those with parents or family members who have been diagnosed with sleep apnea are at a higher risk of developing the condition themselves.

Children with enlarged or problematic tonsils

Children with enlarged tonsils or chronic tonsil problems (such as tonsillitis) also have a higher chance of developing sleep apnea. This is thought to be caused by the narrowing of the airways and inflammation in the throat.

If you suffer from OSA, contact ApneaSeal today. We use innovative face mapping technology to create a sleep apnea mask that fits your nose and face perfectly. Each sleep apnea mask is custom made to ensure that you get a good night’s sleep.

sleep apnea myths

Five common sleep apnea myths

Sleep apnea (or sleep apnoea) is a condition that presents itself with a whole range of symptoms from loud and frequent snoring to insomnia, headaches and memory loss. Indeed, with such a wide range of possible symptoms, sufferers are likely to come across a number of myths and misconceptions while reading up on the condition. Fortunately, we’ve put together a sleep apnea myths busting guide to help you get to grips with the condition:

1: Sleep apnea is simply snoring and is ultimately harmless

While snoring is a very common symptom for those with sleep apnea, there is a big difference between the sleep disorder and a bout of snoring. People with sleep apnea can actually stop breathing up to 400 times during the night, with pauses lasting between 10 and 30 seconds. This pause usually results in a snort that breaks the sleep cycle and can leave sufferers feeling fatigued throughout the day.

2: Sleep apnea is a minor condition

While sleep apnea varies in severity from person to person, it has the potential to be very disruptive to a person’s life. Indeed, if left untreated the disorder can result in serious consequences such as fatigue-related injuries, heart attacks, car accidents, and strokes.

3: Only old folks get sleep apnea

While the chance of developing sleep apnea increases with age, it can affect anyone of any age. Generally speaking, risk factors include being male, overweight, and having a genetic history of the condition.

4: Alcohol will help me to sleep better

While alcohol often helps people to fall asleep more quickly, it reduces important rapid eye movement (or REM) sleep, and can actually worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea.

5: A CPAP machine will make loud noises that will annoy me and my partner

While older CPAP machines may have produced some noise, the newest technological advances mean they are now much quieter. Ultimately, your partner will be far less bothered by the light whirrings of a CPAP machine than the snoring caused by the sleep apnea itself. They are also likely to sleep better in the knowledge that your condition is being treated and you are staving off many of the ill effects of sleep apnea.

about sleep apnea

About Sleep apnea – starting your treatment off right

Short of breath at night? Waking up irritable? Struggling with work and concentration? If you are having trouble with your sleep, it is worth taking the time to about sleep apnea and what to do if it is.

Sleep apnea – Where do I start if I think I have it?

If you have not yet been diagnosed, the first step is to talk with your health professional about sleep apnea. Most people that suffer with sleep apnea do not realise they are waking up throughout the night so writing down your symptoms such as gasping for air throughout the night, tiredness and irritability can help your health professional diagnose you early on.

Can I cure sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is not curable, however, there are effective treatments for the condition. CPAP is Continuous Positive Airway Pressure therapy and is successfully used to treat those with Obstructive Sleep Apnea by using a CPAP machine. The machine delivers mild air pressure into your lungs through a mask to keep your airways open to help you breathe.

What types of masks are there?

After receiving a diagnosis, the next step is to consider which mask you will use along with your CPAP machine. While there are many types of masks, the correct one for you will depend on the way you sleep and how you breathe. Regardless of which generic CPAP mask you choose, you may find the mask uncomfortable and it is common for them to take some getting used to.

Are there more comfortable mask solutions?

Considering the number of people who suffer from sleep apnea, most “one-size-fits-all” masks will not fit quite right due to the vast differences between bone and nasal structures. In order to ensure the right fit, patients can opt for custom made, 3D printed masks which groove perfectly with your facial structure and help produce greater results and ensure a comfortable fit from the start.

Of course, the number one goal of CPAP therapy is to ward off the dangers of sleep apnea, however, it is also essential that treatment does not negatively impact your lifestyle, relationships and comfort so take some time to choose the mask that moulds to your life.

Continue reading through our blog for more tips, FAQ’s and information on sleep apnea.

good nights sleep

A productive day starts with a good night’s sleep

Fatigue caused by the lack of a good night’s sleep is one of the key factors leading to reduced productivity in the workplace, and sleep apnea is a major cause of fatigue. Obstructive sleep apnea (or apnoea) is a sleep disorder where the throat closes fully or partially during sleep, often causing people to wake up many times over the course of the night. Often people don’t even realise that they have sleep apnea, but simply feel fatigued or possess a lack of focus.

Can a good night’s sleep lead to a more productive day?

Many sufferers of sleep apnea start the day feeling unrefreshed or even exhausted after a disturbed night of sleep and find it very difficult to concentrate on their activities. By the afternoon, the body’s circadian rhythms will be attempting to send the sufferer to sleep. When you start the day tired, your productivity suffers. Conversely, a good night’s sleep can help prepare you for a long and productive day and assist with concentration.

What happens if I am fatigued at work?

In addition to posing significant safety risks in certain operating environments, studies have shown that employees who do not get a good night’s sleep have significantly less productivity and workplace performance. Studies have also shown that productivity loss due to fatigue is a significant cost to employers, reducing their ability to grow. If you are tired at work, you will not be performing at your best, which reduces your ability to succeed.

How do I know if I have obstructive sleep apnea?

Loud and chronic snoring is a sign that you may have obstructive sleep apnea, particularly when combined with disturbed sleep and the feeling of waking up tired. The only way to diagnose OSA is to make an appointment to see your doctor and get a referral for a sleep study.

How do I fight the fatigue?

Luckily, there are some easy ways to treat sleep apnea, including using a CPAP machine (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure )which gently pushes air into the mouth and nose preventing the throat from collapsing during sleep. By using a CPAP, a sleep apnea sufferer can enjoy a much improved night sleep, which should lead to increased levels of productivity and motivation throughout the day.

losing weight

Can losing weight cure sleep apnea?

It is now well-established that sleep apnea (or apnoea) shares strong links with being overweight or obese. As such, it is only natural for those with the condition to question whether losing weight can assuage or even cure it.

However, while it may seem logical that addressing the issue that potentially led to sleep apnea should help reverse it, the reality is far more complex.

Sleep apnea actually makes losing weight more difficult

To lose weight effectively, a person usually needs to strike a good balance between adequate sleep, a healthy diet, and regular exercise. In this way, attempting to treat sleep apnea through diet and exercise alone may be highly problematic and, ultimately, frustrating. After all, untreated sleep apnea can cause endless restless nights.

Lack of sleep can cause far more serious health problems than simply being chronically tired. Indeed, being deprived of sleep can detrimentally alter the functions of one’s bodily tissues and hormonal profile. For instance, not getting enough sleep disrupts the hormones released by the body that are designed to control hunger.

Leptin, which controls how full you feel, can decrease, while ghrelin, which controls hunger, tends to increase. This can lead to a vicious cycle of binge eating on carbohydrates, sugars and unhealthy fats, particularly as being tired can affect one’s mental health and ability to exercise willpower.

To put this into perspective, a study written up by the Mayo Clinic actually found that adults sleeping 80 minutes less than usual increased their daily calorie intake by an average of 549 calories – not fantastic news if you want to lose weight.

CPAP therapy can help treat sleep apnea AND weight issues

As sleep apnea and weight issues are so closely intertwined, it is important that sufferers address both problems in tandem.

A CPAP machine is an effective way for sleep apnea sufferers to stop the periodic sleep disturbances caused by sleep apnea. Indeed, the condition can cause sufferers to stop breathing a number of times throughout the night, waking them up and lowering the average number of hours of sleep they achieve.

A CPAP machine can effectively apply pressure to a person’s airway, by way of a CPAP mask, allowing them to get enough oxygen throughout the night and, by extension, setting them up to succeed in their weight loss efforts.

Photo: diet plate by stockcatalog licensed under Creative Commons 4.0
mental wellbeing

How a bad night’s sleep negatively impacts your physical and mental wellbeing

Now, more than ever, the message being broadcasted by health professionals is that adequate and quality sleep is essential to our overall physical and mental wellbeing and longevity. The consequences are especially relevant for those who suffer from sleep apnea. A lack of diagnosis or failure to adhere to medically instructed use of a CPAP machine can result in a poorer quality of life and a reduction in life expectancy. Getting a quality eight hours of sleep a night is essential for the repair and regeneration of the mind and body. Here is how poor quality of sleep can impact the human mind and body.

Emotional capacity

Failure to obtain proper rest can lead to fatigue and irritability. This fatigue and irritability can disrupt the quality of your personal, social and work life. The accumulative effect of this could you lead to a decline in mental wellbeing and you being more susceptible to developing depression.

Impaired cognitive function

Common impairments to cognitive function resulting from a lack of sleep include a poor attention span, an inability to focus, slower reflexes, and forgetfulness. These symptoms can be a dangerous hazard in day to day life, however there are worse consequences associated with long-term sleep deprivation. Deeper states of sleep – which are frequently interrupted by sleep apnea – play a significant role in memory formation and mental wellbeing. It has been noted that a lack of adequate deep sleep is linked to lower spatial memory and increased chances of developing the degenerative diseases Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Cell regeneration

Not only does poor quality of sleep affect the brain and its function, but it also affects the cells throughout the body. Growth hormones are released during Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep, and this hormone is responsible for regenerating muscles and cells throughout the body. Sleep apnea sufferers frequently experience disruption to their REM sleep due to their airways closing more during this phase of the sleep cycle. Moreover, the reduction in oxygen supply due to a restricted airway is suspected to enhance the development of metabolic syndrome, poor muscle tone, increased inflammation, and premature aging.
cpap mask problems

How to deal with common CPAP mask problems

CPAP therapy (continuous positive airway pressure) is a great way to treat sleep apnea. However, some patients find it hard to get used to their CPAP mask, which can mean they miss out on the positive benefits of this technology. That is why we have put together this handy guide for how to deal with the most common CPAP mask problems.

1. Take time to get used to your mask

Rather than just wearing your mask at night, take some extra time to get accustomed to your CPAP mask. Wear it while watching TV or reading a book so when it comes time to sleep it will feel more natural.

2. Choose something that is comfortable for you

Speak to your doctor and CPAP supplier to find a mask that fits you properly, and find out how to properly adjust your mask so that it feels as comfortable as possible.

3. Keep your mask clean

Some patients think they are having an allergic reaction to their mask, but often these issues are caused by infrequent cleaning which can lead to skin irritation. Talk to your doctor to see if you have any allergies to materials such as latex used in some older masks, and make sure to clean your mask regularly.

4. Use the ramp feature

If you find it hard to adjust to the forced air in your mask, use the “ramp” feature which allows you to begin with low air pressure and slowly increase.

5. Keep a good routine to encourage sleep

If you have problems falling asleep with your mask on, make sure you are properly tired before you lay down for the night. Try to keep a good routine which includes exercise and regular sleep patterns. Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bedtime.

6. Clean your filter

If you are finding that your machine is too noisy to sleep, firstly remember that it is surely quieter than your snoring! Also, make sure to clean your filter to reduce any operating sound.
If all of these handy tips don’t solve your CPAP mask problems, talk to your doctor and your CPAP supplier.
microsleep and sleep apnea

Microsleep and Sleep Apnea – Top 5 Causes

There is a link between microsleep and sleep apnea. Microsleep is a worrying episode in which people become incredibly drowsy and temporarily fall asleep without realising it, typically lasting anything from a fraction of a second to 30 seconds. The potential disastrous consequences are clear: anyone experiencing micro sleep while behind the wheel of a vehicle or operating heavy machinery is putting not only their own life but also other people’s at risk.

But what are the most common causes of micro sleep?

Insomnia and hypersomnia

Any condition which leads to sleep deprivation is likely to cause micro sleep, and insomnia is one of the most common culprits. On the other hand, its opposite, hypersomnia – a condition that involves excessive sleepiness – has micro sleep as one of its symptoms. People with hypersomnia suddenly fall asleep as an innate part of their condition, while those with insomnia have extreme difficulty sleeping at night which causes them to micro sleep during the day.

Narcolepsy

This is a long-term neurological disorder which inhibits your body from controlling your sleep-wake cycle. People with narcolepsy frequently experience micro sleep, as well as more serious symptoms like hallucinations or the inability to move.

Schizophrenia

As well as a distorted perception of reality, schizophrenia comes with symptoms such as nightmares and hallucinations which stop sufferers from getting a good night’s sleep. Although psychiatric disorders do not cause sleep disorders like micro sleep, there is certainly a clear link between them.

Microsleep and Sleep apnea

Sleep apnea is by far the most common cause of micro sleep, with approximately 10–15 million people suffering from the condition. It’s characterised by an obstruction or blockage in your upper airway which makes breathing at night very difficult. As well as causing infamous snoring, it also means your lungs can’t get the oxygen they need overnight. This lack of oxygen is what leads to micro sleep and drowsiness during the day.

Investing in a custom-made 3D sleep apnea mask that’s specially moulded to your face shape is the best way to banish micro sleep for good. If you’ve noticed yourself dosing off at work or home, with droopy eyes and a nodding head, contact Apnea Seal to find out more about our apnea machines.

Do I have sleep apnea?

A common question people ask themselves when they don’t get a good night’s sleep is “Do I have sleep apnea?”

Obstructive sleep apnea (or apnoea) impacts approximately 34% of people in Australia. OSA can affect individuals across all age groups. With OSA, your throat becomes obstructed during your sleep, disrupting your sleep patterns and often resulting in snoring. Obstructive sleep apnea can have a greater impact on some individuals, reducing or even stopping breathing for up to a minute or more.

What are the symptoms?

If you wake up often during the night, gasping for air and out of breath, you might have OSA. As a result, you may feel unrefreshed and exhausted in the morning, given the disrupted nature of your sleep. As mentioned, you (or your partner) might notice that you’re snoring more often in your sleep, especially when sleeping on your back. This could result from the obstructed throat passage that is caused by OSA.

How do I know for sure?

If you’ve ever asked “Do I have sleep apnea?”, it’s a good idea to visit your GP. Relay the above symptoms to your doctor, and if they feel it’s necessary, they can refer you to a specialist who will conduct a sleep study. Sleep studies are conducted overnight, to gain an authentic look into your usual sleep habits. During a sleep study, the specialist will measure your sleep, breathing and oxygen levels.

What’s next?

If you are diagnosed with OSA, there are various ways to treat it depending on the severity. For more severe OSA, continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) masks can be effective. The CPAP sends gentle pressure over your nose via a mask, which helps to open your throat during the night. As mentioned, OSA is caused by obstructions of the throat, so using a CPAP mask to keep your airways open is highly effective. The CPAP mask only needs to be used while you’re sleeping in bed. It helps to stop snoring as well, which should additionally help you (and your partner) get some needed, undisturbed rest.

OSA has a significant impact on the individuals suffering from it, including increased stress on your body due to a lack of sleep. If you think you may have OSA, speak to your GP today.

causes of sleep apnea

5 common causes of sleep apnea

The Top 5 Causes of Sleep Apnea

Here are the top 5 causes of sleep apnea. It can affect anyone, but certain factors increase your risk.

Obstructive sleep apnea is a common but serious and potentially debilitating sleep disorder that affects an estimated one million people in Australia. People with OSA experience repeated interruptions in their breathing throughout the night. These disruptions can occur 30 or more times an hour, with each episode lasting more than 10 seconds.

Though sleep apnea can affect people of any age, there are certain biological and lifestyle factors that increase your risk for this condition – or mean you may likely already have it.

Excess weight

Obesity greatly increases the risk of developing obstructive sleep apnea, with some research suggesting that as many as 40 percent of people who are excessively overweight suffer from this condition. Fat deposits around the upper airway, such as the neck, tongue and palate, make it tighter and smaller. When you’re asleep and lying down, your airway constricts even more.

Being male

Men are two to three times more likely to develop sleep apnea than premenopausal women. (After menopause, women have about an equal risk.) Obstructive sleep apnea becomes more frequent as men age. It usually begins in young adulthood and then tapers off in one’s 60s and 70s.

Use of alcohol and other sedatives

Sedative substances have a tendency to increase relaxation of the muscles in your mouth and throat. Moreover, medications such as opioid pain relievers and benzodiazepines suppress communication between the brain and body to regulate breathing.

Smoking

People who smoke are three times more likely to have OSA than non-smokers. Smoking leads to inflammation and fluid retention in the upper airway, which can not only affect breathing but also interfere with the brain’s ability to communicate with the muscles that control breathing.

Nasal congestion

Whether caused by illness, allergies or an anatomical problem such as a deviated septum, chronic nasal congestion means you’re more likely to develop obstructive sleep apnea. These conditions can narrow and inflame the airways, causing breathing problems and poor sleep.