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Why is Sleep Apnoea a problem?

Issue Time:2019/5/10   Read the number:48

Sleep Hygiene (mind association, chronic stress and recovery):

  • If we are honest as a species we manipulate our natural instincts to suit a lifestyle that was never intended for man. Therefore, it is vital that the daily period of sleep we take is as natural as possible and allows the healing processes nature developed to take its course. Many underestimate the power of the mind and its ability to perceive situations and environment. Thus sleep hygiene is of huge importance when maintaining regular and effective periods of sleep. To aid in getting to sleep and staying asleep the mind needs to recognise the bed as a place of sleep and not ulterior options like work or TV. As so often with the brain this association will not happen overnight as it takes time to break the poor sleep hygiene cycle that most of us have become accustomed too.

To start the process consider the following:

  • A reduction to negligible alcohol consumption especially in the evenings
  • Regular evening meal time that is preferably 2 hours before bedtime
  • No TV for at least 45 mins before bed and not in the bedroom
  • A regular bedtime
  • No working in bed
  • Exercise at some point in the day, more than  2-3 hours before bedtime
  • Cooler bedroom temperature if possible

Developing a routine around this could really help sleep quality and improve your quality of life dramatically.

Sleep apnoea has many social, physiological and economic consequences:

Physiological

  • Cardiovascular disease leading to high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack. The combination of increased food intake and boosted blood pressure due to sleepiness creates a cycle which continues to increase blood pressure and fatty deposits within the vessels. This leads to large increases in the probability of developing cardiovascular disease and the life threatening conditions associated with this.
  • Hormone Disruption (release, amounts, timings) – hormones alter mood, diet, stress, organ function and body temperature. In short they are responsible for initiating, aiding and manipulating nearly all our body’s functions. Sleep is integral to allowing the body to restore and control hormone levels and release.
  • Free radical proliferation – Ever heard about ‘free-radicals’ and were a little unsure as to what they were and why there were considered a problem? Free radicals are highly reactive (unstable) molecules that develop exponentially (proliferate) in the body as a response or by-product of stressors such as oxygen shortage. They are considered especially harmful in high concentrations as they are able to outcompete and react with surrounding molecules to disrupt our body’s normal function. They can be particularly damaging, especially within the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) and are thought to lead to a wide range of conditions including dementia, cancer and organ failure.

Clearly considering the physiological effects of sleep apnoea alone; the treatment of this condition is essential in today’s world and with such a large undiagnosed population awareness too.

Social

– Sleep apnoea is often preceded by snoring and leads to gasping and spluttering during the night, keeping your bed partner awake. This typically causes tension between partners due to lack of sleep. Poor sleep hygiene due to sleep apnoea causes diet and mood to change including daytime sleepiness leading to more tension in workplace relationships.

Economic

– Severe daytime sleepiness which is a main symptom of sleep apnoea reduces work place productivity and increases work place mistakes. For example, many professional drivers and regular drivers end up having crashes due to being overtired.

Thus the combination of snoring, night time gasping and unrelenting daytime sleepiness from sleep apnoea has a socio-economic cost that few other conditions can match.