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March 21, 2024

March is National Sleep Month

People Should be Aware of Sleep Apnea Symptoms

This March, we mark National Sleep Month, a time dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of quality sleep and its profound impact on health and well-being.

Many people experience daytime sleepiness or have been told they snore. Often, these symptoms are easy to dismiss as nothing serious. In reality, though, they may indicate sleep apnea, a serious and potentially life-threatening condition.

According to the American Medical Association, about 30 million people in the United States have sleep apnea, but only six million are diagnosed with the condition.

Sleep plays a critical role in maintaining physical, mental and emotional health. With busy lives, sleep can often be overlooked. ThedaCare At Home wants each person to recognize National Sleep Month by prioritizing sleep health, including finding effective treatment for sleep apnea.

Importance of Sleep Health

Sleep is a fundamental necessity for optimal functioning. Unfortunately, many people struggle with sleep-related issues, ranging from occasional insomnia to chronic sleep disorders like sleep apnea. Sleep deprivation or poor sleep quality can lead to many health problems, including:

  • Impaired cognitive functioning and memory retention
  • Increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and hypertension
  • Weakened immune system and susceptibility to illnesses
  • Mood disturbances such as depression and anxiety
  • Weight gain and metabolic disorders

Understanding Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is characterized by pauses in breathing or shallow breaths during sleep. These interruptions can occur multiple times per hour, disrupting the sleep cycle and leading to fragmented, poor-quality sleep.

Sleep apnea can occur at any age, but risk increases with age. While it happens in both genders, it’s more common in men. Obesity also increases the risk for developing the condition. Sleep apnea symptoms include:

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Loud snoring
  • Observed episodes of stopped breathing during sleep
  • Waking during the night and gasping or choking
  • Awakening in the morning with a dry mouth or sore throat
  • Morning headaches
  • Trouble focusing during the day
  • Mood changes
  • High blood pressure

One of the most effective treatments for obstructive sleep apnea is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy. It involves using a CPAP machine, which delivers a steady stream of air through a mask worn over the nose and/or mouth during sleep. This continuous air pressure keeps the airway open, preventing the collapse of tissues in the throat that causes sleep apnea episodes.

By maintaining unobstructed breathing throughout the night, CPAP therapy restores normal sleep patterns and alleviates the symptoms associated with sleep apnea. Benefits of CPAP therapy can include:

  • Improved sleep quality: CPAP therapy can help people with sleep apnea achieve deeper, more restorative sleep, leading to increased daytime alertness and vitality.
  • Reduced health risks: By effectively treating sleep apnea, CPAP therapy can help lower the risk of developing serious health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and stroke.
  • Heightened cognitive function: Restoring adequate oxygen levels during sleep can improve cognitive function, memory consolidation and overall mental acuity.
  • Enhanced mood and emotional well-being: Better sleep quality contributes to a more stable mood, reduced irritability and improved emotional resilience.
  • Increased energy and productivity: With improved sleep, individuals can experience higher energy levels and enhanced productivity throughout the day, supporting a better quality of life.

Connect to Care

If you’re experiencing sleep apnea symptoms, talk with your primary care provider. They can help connect you to referrals to get tested. 

If you’ve been diagnosed with sleep apnea, ThedaCare At Home can help. The team of professionals is dedicated to providing comprehensive sleep solutions tailored to each individual’s needs. To learn more about services available, visit ThedaCare At Home.