Sleep apnea is a condition in which your body stops breathing while you sleep. There are a few different types of sleep apnea: obstructive, central, and complex sleep apnea.
Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common form of sleep apnea. This type occurs when the soft tissues of your tongue and soft palate block the flow of oxygen. Central sleep apnea happens when your brain does not send the correct signals to your breathing muscles. Finally, complex sleep apnea is a combination of the other two forms.
Sleep apnea is not just snoring. While snoring is a common symptom, it doesn’t automatically mean that you have sleep apnea. It is likely that soft tissues are blocking your airway. If you do have sleep apnea, it is essential that you seek and continue treatment. Sleep apnea can be dangerous and deadly.
Sleep apnea causes you to wake multiple times a night. In fact, you can stop breathing hundreds of times in your sleep. It is extremely difficult to get a good night’s sleep through this process. Your body cannot fully rest because it is trying to keep you alive. Additionally, when you stop breathing, your body panics, creating stress. This can damage the quality of your sleep and your ability to reach a night of deep, restful sleep.
If you can’t get enough sleep, you may find yourself constantly tired or fatigued. Without rest, it can be hard to concentrate at work or school, which can cause different kinds of problems. For example, lack of sleep can cause moodiness or irritability.
Sleep apnea wreaks havoc on your body. Over long periods of time, it puts your body under excessive stress. Because sleep apnea affects your ability to get oxygen, your heart undergoes unnecessary work. Your heart must work harder to raise your blood oxygen levels. Additionally, repeatedly waking throughout the night messes with your heart rate. As a result, sleep apnea increases your risk of coronary heart disease and high blood pressure.
It is vital that you seek treatment for sleep apnea. Without treatment, sleep apnea can damage the efficiency of your heart. This can increase your chances of a heart attack or stroke.
Diminished Immune System
One of the side effects of untreated sleep apnea is a diminished immune system. When you stop breathing, your body panics. In order to restart your breathing, your body will rouse you or startle you to wake up. This puts your body in a state of stress. When stressed, your body releases stress hormones—adrenaline and cortisol.
Normally, adrenaline and cortisol work to keep you safe by helping you move faster and think quicker. In harmful or dangerous situations, these chemicals are incredibly helpful. However, your body cannot stay in this state for too long. Long periods of stress can damage your immune system. With a diminished immune system, you are more likely to develop illnesses. Additionally, it can be challenging to fight off infections.