What is Sleep Apnoea?

Sleep apnoea is a condition where airflow is temporary obstructed during sleep, causing the brain to wake you up. This becomes clinically significant if it happens more than 5 times every hour and lasts for more than 10 seconds each time.

Sleep Apnoea Symptoms

Regularly waking up during the night leads to feelings of excessive tiredness and often irritability. In addition to this, people with sleep apnoea may also suffer from the following symptoms;

Headaches

Forgetfulness

Anxiety

Depression

Changes in mood or behaviour

However, not everyone who has these symptoms will necessarily be suffering from sleep apnoea. It is always best to consult your GP if you have any of the symptoms above.

What Causes Sleep Apnoea

Sleep apnoea is caused by a lack of muscle tone in the upper airway which causes the airway to collapse. The brain will then force us to wake up, often with a loud snore or snort – our partners may notice this before we do. During the day, we have enough muscle tone to keep the airway open so can breathe normally. Sleep apnoea is often caused by excess weight and obesity which leads to soft tissue in the mouth and throat. However, it is possible to suffer from sleep apnoea if you are not overweight.

Sleep Apnoea in Children

Parents can sometimes recognise sleep apnoea in children when they hear them loudly snoring or gasping between breaths. This often goes hand in hand with sleeping in unusual positions, speaking with a nasal voice or breathing through the mouth. Always take your child to see a GP if they have any of these symptoms - it may be nothing to worry about but it is better to get these things checked out.

Sleep Apnoea Cures

There are several different treatments for sleep apnoea. In mild cases, taking the following steps can help to aid and even cure sleep apnoea;

Weight loss

Avoiding alcohol

Treating other health conditions

Adjusting your sleep position

Humidifying your bedroom

However, in more severe cases the doctor may also recommend a medical device such as a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. These machines can help people to breathe more easily during sleep so they do not continuously wake up during the night.

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