Sleep apnea is one of the most common sleep disorders among American adults today — but how much do you really know about it?
- The phrase “sleep apnea” definitely sounds a little weird, which makes sense because the word “apnea” is actually a Greek word that means “without breath.” And quite literally, when you suffer from this disorder, your body unconsciously stops breathing for long pauses — usually around 10 to 20 seconds.
- Although 10 – 20 seconds may not seem like a long time to hold your breath, when your body suddenly stops breathing without any preparation, it’s a little bit different than if you hold your breath on purpose. These long pauses actually cause oxygen deprivation in the brain and they usually end with a big gasp for air, often jolting the person awake.
- The most surprising fact here is probably that these pauses can occur as often as 60 times per hour. This means that if you’re suffering from this sleep disorder, you could literally experience hundreds of long pauses and “jolts” in an average night. And yes, this is something that usually happens every night.
- So, it should be no surprise here that if you suffer from sleep apnea, you probably also have chronic sleep deprivation because your body never really gets a full night of restful sleep. The long-term effects of sleep deprivation can be extremely dangerous; for example, people suffering from untreated sleep apnea are three times as likely to have heart disease, and four times as likely to experience a stroke, than people who are being treated or don’t suffer from the disease.
- Now for the good news: sleep apnea is a very common disorder today, and it’s estimated that as many as 18 million Americans deal with it. This is good because it means that researchers and health experts are becoming even more familiar with the signs of sleep apnea, possible sleep apnea causes, and a variety of treatment options are available. CPAP masks, sometimes called sleep apnea masks, are most often used to treat this disorder, and provide instant relief.