Sleep apnea is stopping breathing in one’s sleep or taking breaths that are much more shallow than normal. Sleep apnea episodes of concern are those that last at least ten seconds and may last as long as sixty seconds. As to shallow breathing, or hypoxia, an episode may last as long as a minute-and-a-half to two minutes, explains Dr. Ron Goldstein, a dentist in Mississauga (greater Toronto), Canada with Dr. Ron Goldstein and Associates.
One of the main causes is the jaw falling back during sleep and the tongue falling back as well, putting a block in the airway. There will be a restricted or uneven air flow, and often snoring, something a bed partner will notice (and likely comment on).
Patients without a bed partner, Dr. Goldstein notes, will perhaps become aware of sleep apnea because they get up without feeling rested, and as the day wears on, beginning to fade. Some patients who have afternoon meetings will have to drink a lot of coffee to stay awake.
Dr. Goldstein explains that another indicator may be waking up in the morning with a headache. There is a very good chance that a headache like that is the result of sleep apnea. Other symptoms might be feeling depressed and cranky.
The people who are most likely candidates for sleep apnea include males over age 50. Being overweight can contribute to sleep apnea, but slender people can develop it as well. About 24% of men and 10% of women are at risk for sleep apnea.
Dr. Ron Goldstein graduated in 1971 from the University of Toronto with B.Sc. and D.D.S. degrees. He is an expert in sleep apnea issues and treatment, and he spoke with Sleep Better TV, providing online sleep breathing disorder video news content. Sleep Better TV is a featured network of Sequence Media Group.