Sleep Apnea and Heart Health

Dr. Dan JensenOverall Health, Sleep Apnea

Sleep Apnea and Heart Health
Dr. Dan Jensen

Sleep is a vital part of maintaining good health. If you have sleep apnea or another sleep disorder, you will struggle to recover from an illness or infection, have more difficulty encoding memories, and will suffer from fatigue, stress, and irritability. Sleep apnea is also linked to your heart health.

What is Sleep Apnea?

If you or a loved one snores is can be annoying to anyone around you. However, if you stop breathing from time to time throughout the night this is a sign of sleep apnea, and it’s much more than an annoyance. This condition is caused by an over-relaxation of the muscles in the throat. During sleep, these muscles relax so much that they will actually block the airway, and stop your breathing. This wakes you up repeatedly through the night for a few seconds so your body can tighten the throat muscles and restart breathing. You could wake up multiple times an hour, and you’re not able to get the rest you need or spend adequate time in deep sleep.

Detecting Sleep Apnea

You may not be aware that you have sleep apnea, and your partner will likely be the one to notice that you’ve stopped snoring or breathing multiple times in the night. Sleep apnea is more common than you think, and roughly 1 in 5 adults has sleep apnea. Watch for the signs of sleep apnea, such as fatigue, headaches, forgetfulness, and extreme drowsiness when completing more demanding tasks such as driving. If you’ve woken up taking a very large breath, or wake up feeling anxious or panicking, you probably have sleep apnea.

If you’re not sure if you have sleep apnea, you need to test your sleep patterns, and determine whether you have mild, moderate, or severe sleep apnea. Mild sleep apnea is characterized by 5 to 10 episodes of a blocked airway per hour. Mild sleep apnea is between 15 to 30 episodes per hour, and severe sleep apnea affects your breathing more than 30 times each hour! If you have loud, regular snoring, with deep and even breathes, you don’t have sleep apnea.

Cardiovascular Disease and Sleep Apnea

When you stop breathing during the night, you risk cardiovascular problems that could become life-threatening. Sleep apnea has been linked to high blood pressure, arrhythmia, stroke, and even heart failure. Dr. Donna K. Arnett, dean and professor of epidemiology at the University of Kentucky College of Public Health says that “the evidence is very strong for the relationship between sleep apnea and hypertension and cardiovascular disease generally, so people really need to know that.”

Treating Sleep Apnea

Treat sleep apnea to protect your heart health, enjoy your day full of energy, and let your partner sleep uninterrupted. The most effective treatment for sleep apnea is a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine that keeps a mild flow of air moving through your lungs to keep the airway open. You’ll wear a sleep mask over your mouth during the night, and connect the mask to your CPAP. With your airway open, you can breathe easily throughout the night, avoid waking up repeatedly, and wake up feeling refreshed. You won’t snore during the night, and you’ll be able to regulate your blood pressure and protect your heart health.

Getting a Good Night’s Sleep

If you’re worried about your hearth health, and know you’re not sleeping enough, visit us at Sound Sleep Medical to find out how you can get a good night’s sleep. We’ll help you find the right CPAP machine for your sleep apnea, and make sure you’re getting the rest you need.

Along with treating sleep apnea, you can try some of these tips to getting a good night’s sleep.

  • Avoid using your phone in bed, and remove the TV from your room. The blue light from these devises reduces the natural production of melatonin, and you’ll have trouble falling asleep.
  • Stay active, and make sure you’ve had some physical activity during the day.
  • Don’t drink caffeine or alcohol before bed, since both these substances will interfere with sleep.
  • Have a hot cup of tea, read a book, or do some deep breathing exercises before bed to help you relax and fall asleep easily.

For more tips on sleeping, and to treat your sleep apnea, visit us today at Sound Sleep Medical.