Sleep Apnea and Sleep

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  • most important action you can take to cure your sleep apnea (CPAP only treats it; weight loss can cure it in the overweight person).
  • Avoid alcohol; it causes frequent nighttime awakenings, and makes the upper airway breathing muscles relax.
  • Quit smoking. Cigarette smoking worsens swelling in the upper airway, making apnea (and snoring) worse.
  • Some patients with mild sleep apnea or heavy snoring have fewer breathing problems when they are lying on their sides instead of their backs.

COPING:

The most important part of treatment for people with OSA is using the CPAP whenever they sleep. The health benefits of this therapy can be enormous, but only if used correctly. If you are having problems adjusting your CPAP or you're experiencing side effects of wearing the appliance, talk to the doctor who prescribed it and ask for assistance.

Getting adequate sleep is essential to maintaining health in OSA patients. If you have symptoms of insomnia such as difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up unrefreshed, talk to your doctor about treatment options. Keep in mind that certain store-purchased and prescription sleep aids may impair breathing in OSA patients. One exception is ramelteon, which was studied in mild and moderate OSA patients and found to not harm their breathing.

POLL DATA:

In the 2005 Sleep in America poll, 8% of respondents experienced or had been observed having pauses in their breathing during sleep at least three nights per week. Adults in the poll were also given the Berlin questionnaire, a standardized test assessing risk for sleep apnea. Based on the quetionnaire, 26% of all poll respondents were at risk. Of those at risk, 70% said that they snored, slept on average 6.4 hours/weeknight (compared to overall mean of 6.8 hours); 66% were experiencing daytime sleepiness at least 3 days per week and over half (58%) were obese. Of adults in this population who had been diagnosed with high blood pressure or depression, almost half were also at risk for sleep apnea. 33% of those who drink 4 or more caffeinated beverages daily are designated at risk for sleep apnea.

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