Introduction to Sleep Basics part 2
It seems as if the number of television commercials and radio advertisements promising a good night’s sleep are growing exponentially. Businesses tout their products to consumers 24 hours a day, seven days a week: futuristic mattress material that molds to the body, beds that can be manipulated into a variety of positions with a remote control, a myriad of medicinal sleep aids, menthol rubs to open the lungs, plastic strips to open the nostrils, alarm clocks that allow for the natural waking process to occur, and many others.
Our country is sleep-deprived—desperate for restful nights, to awaken easily, and be functional throughout the day without needing a nap. The anxiety and stress of our busy world certainly make it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. But those dreams of being rested are even more difficult to achieve when nights are fraught with the tossing, turning, snoring, choking, or gasping for breath of oneself or a bed partner.
Millions of Americans are disturbed by either their own or their bed partner’s Sleep Disordered Breathing—caused by airway obstruction–throughout the night. And that makes it almost impossible to get any sleep at all.
Sleep Disordered Breathing is a serious health problem, and its first appearance is usually indicated by snoring. Although snoring is generally viewed in the United States as a minor annoyance, something to be ignored or blocked out, it can be the first sign of a problem.
Medical research has determined that Sleep Disordered Breathing is a condition that ranges in severity. Even the slightest snoring can be an indication of the onset or existence of a loss of airway patency, or muscle tone.
Upper Airway Resistance syndrome (UARS) is marked by a greater loss of airway patency than snoring. Those who suffer from UARS are generally young, female, and may also experience gastroesophageal reflux disorder and/or asthma. Depression and hormonal imbalances are also common in those with UARS.
The serious and often life-threatening problems start when sleepers begin experiencing apneas, where the body stops breathing for 10 seconds or more during sleep, and hypopneas, where the body breathes at a decreased rate and depth during sleep. The occurrences of apneas and hypopneas are called “events,” and their frequency throughout the night can adversely affect the body in many ways, even resulting in death. Obstructive Sleep Apnea is the condition associated with apneic and hypopneic events. Choking, gasping for breath, and long periods of time without breathing are all signs of Obstructive Sleep Apnea.
Snoring, Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome, and Obstructive Sleep Apnea are all serious conditions that should not be ignored. Not only do they affect sleep, they are detrimental to an individual’s health. Research has discovered that in more severe cases of airway obstruction, a patient’s life is shortened by seven years and the condition is generally fatal.