Has your spouse or someone else said that you sound like a dull, crosscut saw choking on a hickory tree? Did they record you while you slept? Nevermind that they didn't get your permission before they recorded. If you find yourself feeling tuckered out during the day, then you might have sleep apnea. 

You wouldn't be alone—an estimated 26% of people in the U.S have the condition. Then again, you may not have sleep apnea. Not everyone who snores does. But if you sometimes wake yourself up at night from the noise or discomfort, or if your spouse has heard you stop breathing mid-snore, you should definitely see your doctor, who will most likely want to refer you for polysomnography at a sleep clinic.

The Test

At the sleep clinic, you'll essentially have a sleepover. The staff will monitor you that night, keeping an eye on your lung and brain activity, heartbeat, and the amount of oxygen in your blood. When they observe you struggling to breathe in your sleep, they may also wake you up to administer positive airflow therapy before allowing you to go back to sleep. 

The results of the test determine what the next steps are. If you do have the condition, figure on receiving a list of lifestyle changes that you ought to make: losing weight, quitting smoking, getting more exercise—all of the hits.

The Results

In the meantime, your doctor will prescribe one of three treatments based on how bad the sleep apnea is:

  1. Mild: You'll get a specialized mouthpiece designed to keep your air pipe open by pushing your jaw outwards.
  2. Medium: It's time for the CPAP breathing machine, which may be a bit of an adjustment. A nozzle that goes over your nose is strapped to your head. It's attached to a hose that is connected to the machine providing a constant stream of air. Your partner may think you look like a fighter pilot, but the machine is effective at pushing air down your windpipe.
  3. Final Option: Several surgical procedures can help correct sleep apnea. Again, this is a last-ditch effort.

Sleep apnea has been tied to two of America's biggest killers: heart disease and diabetes. This means you should really take your sleep seriously to avoid further health issues. Heart disease and diabetes are two desperados who don't play. Sleep medicine along with lifestyle changes will help lengthen your life. For more information, reach out to services like Elkview General Hospital.