It is easy to write off a disturbed night’s sleep, or a feeling of tiredness through the day as just a by-product of a busy modern lifestyle. Yet sleep is so critical to your overall health, both physical and mental. We all know we should ideally be getting between 7 and 8 hours sleep each night, and if we don’t we tend to be out of sorts the next day to varying degrees.
This may range from being a bit moody at best, through to a complete lack of concentration in whatever we try to do. However, repeated lack of sleep can be serious with a number of potential health consequences and you need to address why it is happening.
Stress is one reason for sleepless nights, but obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is a condition which also interrupts sleep. This relatively common condition is not that well known and will be undiagnosed among the greater quantity of its sufferers.
Someone with OSA will experience a narrowing or closing of the airway while sleeping, affecting their breathing. Severity of OSA can vary between a few times a night to hundreds of times, causing the sufferer to keep reawaking as it occurs.
Signs to Look Out for
When sleep-disturbed due to OSA, you will awake choking or gasping for air. However, your partner may be the best one to tell you if you are showing one of the most common symptoms, which is heavy snoring. They will also be able to tell you if you tend to sleep with an open mouth, a sign the body is trying to take in the amount of air it needs. Further signs you could be suffering from OSA will arise the next morning.
OSA sufferers will often wake with a headache, a dry mouth or a sore throat. They will constantly feel tired throughout the day, something which again can be convenient to just explain away by pointing at a hectic lifestyle. The constant waking in the night may only be for a few seconds at a time, but such interruptions are enough to make concentrating on tasks difficult during the day, to make you irritable and lead to a short attention span.
Anyone can suffer from this sleep disorder, although it is more prevalent in men. Being overweight and having a large neck size puts you more at risk too. Of course, any of these signs could still be caused by another issue, yet whatever is causing your consistent lack of sleep should not be ignored.
Fortunately, there is an in-home test for sleep apnoea which can help you determine if you are indeed suffering from this sleep disorder.
If you think you may be suffering from OSA you can order the Intus in-home test, which is quick and easy to use. These tests are done from the convenience of your own home, with the required equipment sent to you.
This involves a simple to use device which is worn overnight, while you are in the comfort of your own bed. This will be the superior option for many compared to applying for a test on the NHS, where you will need to visit your GP first, before being referred to a sleep clinic, requiring you to stay in a hospital overnight while they monitor your sleep.
With an Intus in-home test you just need to wear the device sent to you before returning it for analysis. The test will monitor your heart rate and blood oxygen levels during the night and will be analysed by NHS-trained sleep professionals.
This simple test could prove to be the first and most important step to diagnosing a sleep disorder and subsequently improving your sleep, with all the short-term and long-term benefits this can have.
Risks if Left Undiagnosed
Left undiagnosed and untreated OSA can have serious health implications. Some of the health risks include:
- Being at a higher risk of heart disease and heart attack.
- An increased likelihood of having diabetes – weight gain can be a feature of reduced sleep as the body craves more carbs, which increases the risk of diabetes.
- OSA can lead to high blood pressure through the extra stress the body is put under through lack of sleep and a fall in oxygen levels in the blood from the breathing difficulties experienced when sleeping.
- An increased risk of strokes.
The body needs good, uninterrupted sleep to perform what is demanded from it and a lack of sleep can impact the immune system, leading to more illness and colds which take longer to recover from.
Lack of concentration from a sleep disorder can have serious practical implications, as the drowsiness will put you at far more risk of an accident when driving. The heavy snoring also affects your partner.
All these risks emphasise how important a diagnosis is and the value of an in-home test.
Treatment for OSA
If diagnosed with sleep apnoea, there are treatment options available, including CPAP therapy. Meaning continuous positive airway pressure, it involves a machine which supplies a constant stream of air via a mask while you sleep and is obtained following a sleep study.
There are a range of masks available which can cover just the nose, mouth or both depending on what you find most comfortable. It is important to be positive throughout the process and finding the mask to suit you is crucial.
Besides the machine and mask, a humidifier is also necessary and you will need to remain patient and persistent to find the right settings on the devices in order to supply the level of comfort required to provide consistent nights of good sleep.
Persistence with CPAP therapy is key as the rewards in making the treatment work include reducing the associated health risks, restoring lost motivation and concentration levels and being rid of that feeling of constant drowsiness.
Diagnosis is the first step and the Intus in-home sleep test is an easy, convenient way to find out if you have OSA.
To order the Intus At-Home Sleep Test: https://www.sleeptest.co.uk/product/in-home-sleep-test/
To shop for the highest-quality selection of CPAP devices: https://www.cpap.co.uk/shop.html