Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is like a mastermind, silently pulling strings behind the scenes to make your life a little more miserable every day. If you’ve never researched sleep apnea before, you might think that the condition only makes you snore. The truth is more sinister and far more dangerous to your overall health and well being.
Apnea literally means “without breath.” The snoring part of the condition is actually the airway rattling closed before you wake up gasping for air. If you don’t think it’s that big of a deal, check out how interrupting your sleep can affect the rest of your life:
When you wake up with a headache you know the rest of the day is going to be a battle. It’s hard to get in the right frame of mind or to just feel good about anything. Insufficient oxygen and a lack of sleep are two major causes of headaches; OSA provides both conditions, and you don’t even know when it’s happening.
Having trouble remembering things? Not enough sleep can do that to you. It starts by making you stumble over words, words that you know you know. Then you forget important information, appointments, conversations you had, why you walked into a room. It is frustrating that you can’t seem to remember things, which plays into another effect of sleep apnea…
Mood Swings and Depression
The frustration of not being able to recall things is secondary to the inability to control your emotions. You most likely find yourself irritable over every little thing. You overreact to things that are only minor inconveniences. Without the restorative powers of Deep REM sleep, your serotonin and neurotransmitter production bottoms out causing depression and moodiness.
A lesser known effect of OSA is erectile dysfunction in men and a decreased sex drive in women. The theory is that since testosterone levels peak during sleep and apnea sufferers aren’t getting enough sleep, the hormone level decreases enough to affect the libido. Furthermore, self-interest makes the problem worse: a lack of sleep can make even the most generous person unaware of their partner’s needs when all you can do is think about trying to get some rest.
Obesity is usually seen as a sign of sleep apnea; the greater the neck circumference, the more likely a person is to have OSA. In reality, the OSA and obesity link is symbiotic. Obesity does tend to predict OSA, but OSA, in turn, predicts obesity. When you don’t get sleep, even the best diet and exercise plan will fail. Weight loss becomes impossible due to a cascade of OSA effects: low energy, out of balance hormones, low neurotransmitters, insufficient oxygen, etc…
Obstructive sleep apnea is a silent killer, aside from the snoring. If you’ve had a sleep study and you’re ready to get help, contact Dr Tarun Agarwal at Raleigh Dental Arts. We offer a custom-made sleep appliance that will help you breathe and sleep better!