Daytime sleepiness has become an accepted consequence of our busy lives today. We overload our schedules, stay up too late, and even sleep with our smartphones by the bedside. We then walk around yawning and guzzling coffee to stay awake the next day. But if having a short nap now and then doesn’t relieve your daytime sleepiness, then your lifestyle may not be the culprit — it could be obstructive sleep apnoea – not to be confused with simple snoring.
Obstructive sleep apnoea occurs when the muscles in the back of your throat relax too much when you are asleep. This lets the tissues around your throat close in and block the airway. You stop breathing for a few seconds (this pause in breathing is called apnea). Your brain has to wake you up because of this so you gasp or change positions to unblock the airway. You aren’t even aware it’s happening. These stop-breathing episodes can occur dozens of times per hour, making you feel tired the next day. Even worse, they increase your blood pressure and heart rate, putting stress on the cardiovascular system and increasing your risk for a stroke along with other serious things like Diabetes.
You probably think you’re just snoring but it’s something far more serious.
Several million people in the UK have obstructive sleep apnoea — and many millions more don’t know they have it. The occurrence of this is rising rapidly and over three quarters of cases of obstructive sleep apnoea remain undiagnosed. It’s happening because more and more of us are overweight or obese and too much fat in the neck can add to airway blockage during your sleep.
Daytime sleepiness is just one sign of obstructive sleep apnoea. Others include:
- Loud snoring, often accompanied by gasping for breath
- A bed partner observing pauses in breathing during sleep
- Abrupt awakenings accompanied by shortness of breath
- Waking up with a dry mouth or sore throat
- Morning headaches
- Difficulty staying asleep
Some people don’t want to deal with the problem by having the old-style treatment for obstructive sleep apnea, which often includes wearing a mask at night that uses forced air to keep your airway unblocked. This is known as continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). They just can’t face doing that.
However newer treatments using simple oral appliances, or mouthpieces like in sport, are now recommended. They are equally effective for those of us who are sufferers of either mild or moderate sleep apnoea – and that tends to be most of the people who have the problem. Acute sufferers still need to use CPAP, but if you start with a mouthpiece now – then you’ll probably never need to use CPAP, as sleep apnoea can not only be halted but also reversed.
If you have any of the listed symptoms or risk factors along with daytime sleepiness, it’s time to wake up to the possibility that you’re not just snoring but may have obstructive sleep apnoea. So start thinking about getting treatment for your snoring and sleep apnoea. It can make your sleep, and your health, much better. The SleepPro Custom mouthpiece is medically recommended in recent UK Hospital tests. It is an approved NHS product, and is available without fuss or prescription – specially made and fitted for your mouth to ensure maximum comfort and high effectiveness. You’d be wise to check it out.
By John Redfern