Photo Source: Amy Poehler by Rubenstein (Flickr)
Everyone can agree that sleep is very important for someone to maintain their overall health. One celeb who knows this well is favorite funny lady and former SNL cast member Amy Poehler.
When discussing her own sleeping issues, Poehler mentioned that when her son, Archie was just three months old, she had fallen asleep a couple of times at work. There were times when she had fallen asleep with her eyes open and standing up.
Just like other mothers in the world, she suffered from sleep deprivation after giving birth. So, she slept whenever (and wherever) she could, even during lunch and production meetings.
When her sleep issues continued, Poehler went to a sleep center located in Beverly Hills to seek help. There, she was asked about her trouble and only shared that she knew she snored at times. But, in reality, the people around her have said that she not only snores loudly, but frequently.
After meeting with her doctor, she was told that she was suffering from sleep apnea, which is a condition where a person stops breathing briefly while they are sleeping. She was also asked how many times she woke up throughout the night. Poehler first told them 4-5 times, but the doctor confirmed a different number. After testing her for sleep apnea, the doctor actually told her that she woke up 20-30 times throughout the the night.
When she was diagnosed, Poehler thought that she would be sent to a rehab center to be monitored and treated. But, the doctor sent her home with a CPAP that she was advised to use whenever she would sleep.
Now, not only does Poehler use a CPAP, she also uses mouth guards, special pillows and breathing strips.
Risk factors of sleep apnea
There are many sleep apnea risk factors, and one of them is age. Anybody can suffer from sleep apnea, but it is more common among older adults or those who are in the middle of their life, especially among males. On the other hand, for women, their risk of developing sleep apnea increases after reaching menopause. Obese people are also more likely to suffer from sleep apnea. Aside from that, there are some medicines that can interfere with someone’s ability to wake up from their sleep, and anti-anxiety medications are said to increase their risk of having blocked airways. It is also not advisable for people with sleep apnea to drink alcohol.
On the other hand, the complications that come together with sleep apnea are actually quite scary. Aside from making errors in their daily activities, a person with sleep apnea has a higher risk of getting involved in accidents. They may also suffer from a heart attack, high blood pressure, and even stroke. They also have the tendency to feel anxious, due to their lack of sleep.
Sleep apnea may also lead to diabetes and irregular heartbeat. Some patients have also gained weight due to eating just to stay awake that can contribute to a heart attack. Sleep apnea can also make a person feel depressed, and this can affect their relationships both at home and at work.
How to know if someone is suffering from sleep apnea?
It is better to discover sleep apnea early to prevent complications. People with sleep apnea tend to suffer from a headache, sore throat, dry mouth and fatigue. Most of all, they suffer from restless sleep and because of that, they find it difficult to concentrate on whatever it is that they are doing. They also lack the energy to accomplish their day-to-day tasks.
Although the things mentioned before are symptoms of sleep apnea, it does not necessarily mean that if a person has any of these symptoms, they are already suffering from sleep apnea. For an accurate diagnosis, it would still be best to consult with a sleep specialist, where they would be required to undergo physical test and examinations, oftentimes in a sleep laboratory. Their medical history will also be checked.
How to treat sleep apnea?
Nowadays, there are a lot of options for patients to treat their sleep apnea. Most of the treatments are used throughout the night. Just like Amy Poehler, they can buy special pillows, breathing strips and mouth guards. They can also invest in CPAP, a device that makes use of air pressure to keep their upper airway open during sleep. This device helps make breathing easier when sleeping. When using this device, ensuring correct pressure is necessary, and this is the reason why it is tested in a sleep lab first. However, although this device is effective, some patients don’t prefer it for the reason that they do not find it convenient. It can also cause dry mouth and congestion if not properly used.
On the other hand, there are now devices that automatically adjust the pressure. Oral devices like a mouthpiece that can help relieve obstruction are also available, which can be an alternative to CPAP devices. This device moves the jaw or the tongue away from the airway. Surgery can also be an option for people with sleep apnea to reposition their jaw or remove their tonsils.
Sleep apnea is the most common sleep disorder, but it is often left undiagnosed. This is mainly because patients aren't aware of their symptoms until someone brings it up to them. When symptoms are known, patients should immediately be referred to a sleep medicine specialist.