What Is Sleep Apnea?

World Sleep Day is March 13. In recognition of this day and National Sleep Awareness Week the second week of March, our team at AFC Urgent Care Ooltewah wants you to understand the symptoms associated with sleep apnea, one of the most common sleep-related health issues.

How Common Is Sleep Apnea?

Very common, actually. Sleep apnea affects around 22 million people living in the United States. When a person has sleep apnea, breathing repeatedly stops and starts during the night.

There are three main types of sleep apnea, including central apnea, obstructive apnea, and a mixture of central and obstructive apnea. Central sleep apnea occurs due to the brain being unable to tell the muscles it is time for sleep, while obstructive sleep apnea is caused by a collapse in the airway during sleep.

Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Loud snoring
  • Observed episodes of stopped breathing during sleep
  • Abrupt awakenings accompanied by gasping or choking
  • Awakening with a dry mouth or sore throat
  • Morning headache
  • Difficulty concentrating during the day

Can You Prevent Sleep Apnea?

Fortunately, when it comes to sleep apnea, there are some lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your risk. You want to aim to maintain a healthy weight, which can be achieved through diet and exercise. This is especially important, since those who are overweight have extra tissue in the back of the throat, which can cause apnea.

You should also quit smoking, if you smoke, since smoking leads to inflammation and fluid retention in the throat and upper airway.

Ways to Promote Quality Sleep

  • Stick to a sleep schedule.
  • Practice a relaxing bedtime ritual.
  • Avoid naps, especially in the afternoon.
  • Exercise daily.
  • Keep your bedroom cool and dark.
  • Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillow.
  • Sleep on your side rather than your back to open up airways.

Are you having trouble sleeping that could be related to an underlying medical condition? Stop by AFC Urgent Care Ooltewah today for a medical evaluation—no appointment is needed.