OBSTRUCTIVE SLEEP APNEA
The sleep disorder known as obstructive sleep apnea takes place when the muscles in the back of the throat relax during an individual’s sleep cycle. This narrows the breathing airways and lowers oxygen levels in the blood. When the brain senses the breathing disruption, it signals the body to awaken. This disruptive pattern may repeat 5-30 times each hour, which may preclude patients from achieving a deep, restful sleep.
Although individuals with obstructive sleep apnea are generally unaware that their sleep cycle has been disrupted, this sleep disorder may lead to excessive daytime sleepiness (hypersomnia) and other problematic health complications, including:
Mood or attention problems
Elevated blood pressure (hypertension)
Complications with surgery and medications
Awakening with a headache, sore throat, or dry mouth
Difficulty staying asleep
There are a number of biological and/or lifestyle factors that can heighten a patient’s risk of developing obstructive sleep apnea, such as chronic nasal congestion; having a naturally narrow airway; having a thick neck circumference; obesity; smoking; genetic predisposition; alcohol consumption; age; and gender (men are twice as likely to suffer from sleep apnea).