Sleep Apnea.
What is it? Do I have it?
 
Tahnee Kinsman BAppSci, IBLS-AIS, PhD Candidate
Sleep Science Editor
It is estimated that a large portion of sleep disorders have gone undiagnosed in the general population. Sleep disorders have a negative effect on physical and mental performance. The most common form of sleep disorder is sleep apnoea and may affect up to 10% of the general population. This condition is most prevalent in the population of men over the age of 30.

Could you suffer from sleep apnea?

High rate of respiratory infection, dry mouth on waking, frequent night time awakenings, intense dreaming, gagging, snoring daytime sleepiness and morning headaches are all symptoms of sleep apnea.

Huge information campaigns have emerged to educate communities since the daytime tiredness associated with sleep apnea has been held responsible for many driving accidents.

Typical mesomorphic types more susceptible to sleep apnea are thick-necked and stocky. 'Forward' Rugby union and league players are suspected of being vulnerable to the condition.

Respiratory infections, hay fever and other allergies all contribute to a less serious form of this disorder called increased upper airway resistance. Although snoring is a regular characteristic for the sleep of many people, it is also a symptom of increased upper airway resistance. Any form of upper airway resistance or obstruction can be responsible for a decrease in the amount of REM and deep sleep. Poor sleep quality will increase the levels of day-time fatigue and will slow down the muscle recovery process after strenuous physical efforts. Fortunately, both conditions of obstructive sleep apnoea and upper airway resistance can be treated.

So how do we treat sleep apnea?

If you are found to suffer from the most serious case of obstructive sleep apnoea, you will need to wear a mask when you sleep. The mask is attached to a small pump that is designed to increase the air pressure in order to maintain the opening of your upper airway.

In the less serious case of upper airway resistance, nasal sprays can be used over periods of respiratory infection or allergies. You must take caution in using certain nasal sprays as they are not designed for long-term use and can damage the nasal membrane. Sports competitors must also be certain that the sprays do not contain any banned substances such as pseudoephedrine.

Although sleep disorder sufferers are often skeptical about treatment and the processes involved, people who have been treated for sleep disorders can usually attest to becoming fitter and healthier individuals.

Tahnee Kinsman.
Sleep Physiologist
Australian Institute of Sport.

 

The most common form of sleep disorder is sleep apnoea and may affect up to 10% of the general population. This condition is most prevalent in the population of men over the age of 30.

High rate of respiratory infection, dry mouth on waking, frequent night time awakenings, intense dreaming, gagging, snoring daytime sleepiness and morning headaches are all symptoms of sleep apnea.

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