Sleep Apnoea is a common and currently very under diagnosed condition where breathing is repeatedly disrupted during sleep.
These breathing difficulties during sleep are caused by the muscles in the back of your throat becoming too relaxed. These muscles are responsible for keeping the airways open during sleep, so their excessive relaxation can either lead to a full blockage (apnoea) or a partial blockage (hypopnoea) of the airways. When the body senses that oxygen levels are dangerously low, due to the inability to breathe, it quickly wakes up to allow normal breathing. It takes only two breaths for the body to reach normal blood-oxygen levels. Once this level is reached, you fall back asleep instantly.
Because these awakenings are so quick, people with Sleep Apnoea are often unaware that they happen at all. However, as they can happen as frequently as every two minutes, the frequent awakenings prevent people from ever achieving sufficient sleep.
As sleep is constantly being disrupted, one of the most obvious symptoms of Sleep Apnoea is excessive sleepiness during the day. This can cause difficulties in both work and family life. Other signs that you may have Sleep Apnoea include:
The earliest identification of Sleep Apnoea symptoms are often made by the partners of sufferers. This is because Sleep Apnoea causes one to make a lot of noise throughout the night through snoring, spluttering, and loud breathing as they desperately try and replenish their depleted oxygen levels.
If you or your partner demonstrates more than one of these symptoms then it is imperative that you consult your GP immediately. This is because the extreme fluctuations in oxygen levels caused by Sleep Apnoea can put a lot of strain on your heart. People with Sleep Apnoea often develop high blood pressure, and have a much greater risk of developing heart disease or suffering heart attacks.
Sleep Apnoea does not affect people randomly; there are some well establised risk factors associated with the condition. These are:
Sleep Apnoea is diagnosed using a controlled sleep study called a Polysomnography. This usually takes place in a hospital with a specialised sleep unit, and your heart-rate, breathing, and brain activity are all measured while you sleep.
Should you be diagnosed with Sleep Apnoea there are four ways to manage the disorder.
For the majority of people with Sleep Apnoea, a dental appliance is sufficient in alleviating the harmful symptoms. If you think you may benefit from such an appliance please book online or call us on 020 8748 1381.