If you’re not getting quality sleep, you’re not living your best life. Sleep is an active state essential for renewing the body both mentally and physically. Poor sleep negatively affects every area of life — from mood, energy level and focus to increasing the risk of serious diseases — and sleep apnea is frequently the culprit.
“Sleep apnea is a very common condition that can have serious health ramifications and economic impact,” said Adam Graham, MD, Medical Director of Mission Sleep Center. “Untreated, sleep apnea can contribute to poor quality sleep, excessive daytime sleepiness, hypertension, stroke, cardiovascular disease and motor vehicle accidents.”
What’s going on?
While there are different types of sleep apnea, the most common is obstructive sleep apnea, which occurs when the throat muscles relax to the point that they narrow the airway in the throat. When this happens, the body can’t get enough air, which can lower the oxygen level in the blood.
When your brain senses this, it rouses you from sleep so that you can reopen your airway — which keeps you from getting deep, restful sleep. These awakenings are so brief, you likely don’t remember them.
“Symptoms of sleep apnea include snoring, stoppage of breathing during sleep, gasping or choking episodes that awaken a patient, morning headaches, dry mouth at night, as well as frequent arousals at night,” said Dr. Graham. “Patients often have to use the bathroom several times a night and wake up tired in the morning. Many describe feeling as if they haven’t even slept at all.”
The Mission Sleep Center provides in-home and outpatient sleep medicine services to patients who self-refer or are referred by their physician. Depending on their health history, a patient may meet with a physician, or in cases where the suspicion is high for sleep apnea, they may undergo a sleep study first. “Many patients undergo a home sleep apnea test, which is explained by our staff ahead of time during a brief daytime appointment,” said Dr. Graham.
For patients who require an in-lab sleep study, Mission Sleep Center offers six locations in the region with rooms that feature full-size beds and feel more like a hotel room than a hospital room. “Our sleep technicians do an excellent job explaining all aspects of the study for our patients to try and put their minds at ease,” said Dr. Graham.
Try these tactics for a good night’s sleep:
- Maintain a consistent sleep-wake schedule
- Avoid caffeinated drinks in the afternoon and evening
- Avoid screen time and reading in bed
- Get regular exercise
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Avoid using alcohol
Adam Graham, MD, is Medical Director of Mission Sleep Center.