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Causes and Cures For Sleep Apnea – Bentonville, AR Mattresses

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How to Deal With Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing stops and starts repeatedly. There are two main types of sleep apnea:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea, the more common form that occurs when throat muscles relax
  • Central sleep apnea, which occurs when your brain doesn’t send proper signals to the muscles that control breathing

It is important to see your doctor if you think you might have sleep apnea.

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Causes of Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the muscles in the back of your throat relax.

When the muscles relax, your airway narrows or closes as you breathe in, and you can’t get an adequate breath in. This may lower the level of oxygen in your blood. Your brain senses this inability to breathe and briefly rouses you from sleep so you can reopen your airway. This awakening is usually so brief that you don’t remember it.

You may make a snorting, choking or gasping sound. This pattern can repeat itself five to 30 times or more each hour, all night long. These disruptions impair your ability to reach the desired deep, restful phases of sleep, and you’ll probably feel sleepy during your waking hours.

People with obstructive sleep apnea may not be aware that their sleep was interrupted. In fact, some people with this type of sleep apnea think they sleep well all night.

Causes of Central Sleep Apnea

Central sleep apnea, which is much less common, occurs when your brain fails to transmit signals to your breathing muscles. You may awaken with shortness of breath or have a difficult time getting to sleep or staying asleep. Like with obstructive sleep apnea, snoring and daytime sleepiness can occur.

The most common cause of central sleep apnea is heart failure and, less commonly, a stroke. People with central sleep apnea may be more likely to remember awakening than are people with obstructive sleep apnea.

Like obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea is more common in males and people over the age of 65. However, central sleep apnea is often associated with serious illness, such as heart disease, stroke, neurological disease, or spinal or brainstem injury.

Anyone can have sleep apnea—young, old, male, female, and even children.

Treatments/Cures for Obstructive and Central Sleep Apnea

While a diagnosis of sleep apnea can be scary, it is a treatable condition. In fact, there are many things you can do on your own to help, particularly for mild to moderate sleep apnea.

  • Weight loss. People who are overweight have extra tissue in the back of their throat, which can fall down over the airway and block the flow of air into the lungs while they sleep.
  • Avoiding alcohol, sleeping pills, and sedatives, especially before bedtime as they relax the muscles in the throat and interfere with breathing.
  • Sleep on your side. Avoid sleeping on your back, as gravity makes it more likely for your tongue and soft tissues to drop and obstruct your airway.
  • Prop your head up. Elevate the head of your bed by four to six inches or elevate your body from the waist up by using a foam wedge. You can also use a special cervical pillow.
  • Open your nasal passages. Try to keep your nasal passages open at night using a nasal dilator, saline spray, or breathing strips

Medical Treatment/Cures

  • Treating the underlying medical condition causing the apnea, such as a heart or neuromuscular disorder
  • Using supplemental oxygen while you sleep.
  • Continuous Positive Airflow Pressure (CPAP) is the most common treatment for moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea. A CPAP machine prevents sleep apnea by blowing air into a mask that covers the nose and mouth. The stream of air keeps the airways open. Most CPAP devices are the size of a tissue box.
  • In many cases, you’ll experience immediate symptom relief and a huge boost in your mental and physical energy.
  • CPAP without the mask
  • One of the newest treatment options for sleep apnea is an alternative form of CPAP called Provent, a device that fits over the nostrils and is smaller and less intrusive than the traditional CPAP machine. If you haven’t been able to adjust to the CPAP mask, ask your doctor about Provent. Keep in mind that Provent, however, is more expensive than regular CPAP machines, and it doesn’t work for everyone.
  • Dental devices for sleep apnea
  • Most dental devices are acrylic and fit inside your mouth, much like an athletic mouth guard. These devices open your airway by bringing your lower jaw or your tongue forward during sleep.
  • Surgery as treatment for sleep apnea
  • If you have exhausted other apnea treatment options, you may want to discuss surgical options with your doctor or sleep specialist. Surgery can increase the size of your airway, thus reducing your episodes of sleep apnea.

Here at Cloud9 in Bentonville, AR, we want you to have the best sleep possible. A great mattress is just one facet of a good night’s sleep. Your sleep health is just as important to us. If you feel you have a medical condition such as sleep apnea, it is best to consult your physician, but having the right mattress can certainly a be a huge help!