Almost 10% of people who snore have sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is defined as any period during your sleep in which you stop breathing for more than 10 seconds at a time. Actually, sleep apnea isn't snoring -- it's a stoppage in snoring. Like a beautiful painting or person, it takes your breath away.
The interruption of breathing is not the only danger with sleep apnea. When you stop breathing, your body actually wakes up -- you're just not conscious of it. The effect is that you never fall into a rejuvenating deep sleep.
Your body needs two kinds of sleep during the night: REM (rapid eye movement) sleep and slow-wave sleep. To get into deep REM sleep, you need about 90 minutes of consistent sleep.
So if you're waking up 10 times an hour, which is typical for people with sleep apnea, you're never getting into REM, and you won't wake up refreshed.
In the early stages of sleep apnea, there's no real damage to your body. But as the disorder progresses, it leads to more serious issues.
Episodes of breathing cessation cause the lungs to hold on to some carbon dioxide, which can lead to high blood pressure. Poor sleep quality can cause excessive fatigue throughout the day, memory loss, and morning headaches. Over time, it also can also increase the risk of stroke, and in some cases it may trigger abnormal heartbeats and other cardiovascular problems.
- Q What are the risks of untreated sleep apnea?
- Q Can sleep apnea cause me to have a car crash?
- Q How can obstructive sleep apnea affect my eyes?
- Q What forms of cardiovascular disease are associated with sleep apnea?
- Q Can sleep apnea increase my risk of dying from cancer?
- Q What are the effects of sleep apnea?