Healthy Living

The Health Hazards that Often Come with Sleep Apnea

The Health Hazards that Often Come with Sleep Apnea

The Health Hazards that Often Come with Sleep Apnea

According to several studies, depending on the patient's age, one needs between seven and 10 hours of sleep every night. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that up to a third of people get fewer than the seven hours needed. Fifty to 70 million people worldwide suffer from insomnia, restless leg syndrome, and sleep apnea. Sleep apnea alone affects about 22 million sleep-deprived Americans.  These sleep disorders not only deprive patients of a good night’s sleep, they also threaten the health of up to 45% of the world’s population.

Health hazards and financial missteps

Restless sleep due to sleep apnea and other sleep disorders is more than just waking up tired and cranky; it is also a financial and health crisis. Sleep disorders cause high blood pressure, weak immune systems, weight gain, mood swings, depression, lack of libido, a higher risk of diabetes, stroke, cardiovascular disease, some cancers, and dementia.

Rand Europe studied sleep deprivation in the United States and estimated that $411 billion in losses came from workers who slept less than six hours a night. This figure includes those who suffer from sleep apnea. Japan loses $138 billion or 2.92% of their BDP, Germany has a $60 billion loss, and the United Kingdom loses $50 billion or 18.86% of its GDP each year from sleepy workers.

If we could just add a couple of hours of sleep to those figures, studies estimate that the US would bring $226.4 billion back into their economy, Japan would recover $75.7 billion, and the UK and Germany would find an additional $29.9 and $34.1 billion. Just think of what countries could do with that much more money recovered from just a couple more hours of sleep?

What happens to your body when there's a lack of sleep?

Lack of sleep affects everyone’s body differently, but there are obvious similarities. You are irritated, have dull reflexes, are moody, and your mind is fuzzy. How much those conditions affect you depends on how often you deprive yourself of healthy sleep. Note that after 17 to 19 hours without sleep, you function like someone who has drunk enough alcohol to raise your blood levels to 0.05%. Skip a full 20 to 25 hours of sleep, and you perform as if you had an alcohol rate of 0.1% in your bloodstream.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that at least 100,000 accidents are the result of drowsy driving. An estimated 1,550 deaths, 71,000 serious injuries and $12.5 billion in monetary losses are the effects of driving sleep deprived. A news report from a year ago quote a wife who said, “If I had known that sleep deprivation was a real thing, I would have discouraged my husband from driving home after long day of meetings.”

Sleep apnea causes a lack of sleep.  You abruptly wake up, gasping for air almost 30 times per hour. You may not know you are waking up, but this interrupted sleep brings on stress, anxiety, and depression as your body tries to stay up with what you need to do during your waking hours. Think about those with chronic sleep apnea who stop breathing for up to a minute. Interrupted sleep brings on insomnia, cognitive impairment, and can reduce your brain size. 

Read on to learn more about the health hazards sleep apnea can cause, and some solutions to avoid them at all costs.