You have it all planned out. Go to sleep early, wake up, and be productive for the day. But there is this nagging feeling. You feel sleepy and fatigued despite your good night’s rest. Seems odd, but you shrugged it off and treated it like nothing. As you sit on your office desk, you started to feel dizzy, and your concentration is way off. Your colleagues and superiors start to call your attention, asking you if you feel alright. You said you are and continued the day like nothing is happening.
Days and weeks have passed, and performance review has finally arrived. Your name is called for your evaluation. You are pumped up, knowing that you did enough to be entitled of a raise. To your dismay, your boss gave you a so-so mark. He and the rest of your colleagues know how much of a workhorse and performer you are, but to have such a mediocre evaluation has left them scratching their heads. He asked you what happened? More importantly, you asked yourself, what happened?
Deep down inside, you know that you gave it your all. Showed up every day on time, completed your menu and more, and stood right by with your teammates when they needed you. You started doubting yourself, that you may not be enough at your current state. You consulted with your wife, your kids, your friends, and relatives. They all gave you the usual pep talk. Seems enough, but there is still something that bothers you. You backtracked everything from the past few months, down to the last detail. You remembered something. Those nights that you felt uneasy while you were sleeping, and the following day you woke up, feeling already tired and beat that could have carried over to workplace. You decided to pay your doctor a visit, hoping to unravel what may have caused your poor evaluation.
You have a case of sleep apnea
A few medical tests here and there, and the doctor has finally laid down the verdict: You have a case of sleeping disorder known as sleep apnea. What is a sleep apnea?
Basically speaking, you go to sleep, and you start to have these unusual and uneven breathing patterns that may also come with occasional snoring. But let's examine what sleep apnea is in a more clinical approach.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
The more common of the two forms of apnea, it is caused by a blockage of the airway, usually when the soft tissue in the back of the throat collapses during sleep.
Central Sleep Apnea
Unlike OSA, the airway is not blocked, but the brain fails to signal the muscles to breathe, due to instability in the respiratory control center.
Risk Factors of Sleep Apnea
Now that you know what has caused your dip in workplace performance, you started to run in back once again. Reviewed everything: Your age, lifestyle, genetics, anatomy, everything.What are the factors that causes sleep apnea? Let us take a look:
- Age – Sleep apnea chooses no age, but the risks get higher once you get older. As you age, more fatty tissue builds up in the neck and tongue.
- Unhealthy lifestyle habits – Are you a binge eater, drinker, and smoker? If your answer is yes, then you are in no luck. Intake of alcohol can close your airway due to relaxation of muscles in mouth and throat. Smoking can also cause inflammation in the upper airway. Binge-eating obviously leads to overweight and obesity. If you fall under all these categories, then you may want to start reexamining your lifestyle.
- Genetics – Sometimes, the weight of the problem is entirely out of your hand. In this case, your family tree could play a factor in your sleeping troubles. There is not much that you can do, other than keep living a healthy lifestyle so the risks are minimized.
- Race or ethnicity – Studies reveal that sleep apnea is more prevalent to black, Hispanic, and Native American races.
Signs and symptoms
While you try and get some recollection of your unusual sleeping habits, it is important that you know the common signs and symptoms of sleep apnea. Knowing this might make a difference the next time your boss reviews your yearly performance.Signs:
- Reduced or absent breathing, known as apnea events
- Frequent loud snoring
- Gasping for air during sleep
- Excessive daytime sleepiness and fatigue
- Decreases in attention, vigilance, concentration, motor skills, and verbal and visuospatial memory
- Dry mouth or headaches when waking
- Sexual dysfunction or decreased libido
- Waking up often during the night to urinate
You are now equipped with this much information and realized that your sleep apnea does not only disrupt your workplace effectiveness, but also has a nasty domino effect towards your overall health as well. Leaving this sleeping disorder unchecked may push you to a more unfavorable situation health-wise.In addition to irregular breathing patterns, sleep apnea may increase your risk of:
- Atrial fibrillation
- Cancers, such as pancreatic, renal, and skin cancers
- Chronic kidney disease
- Cognitive and behavioral disorders, such as decreases in attention, vigilance, concentration, motor skills, and verbal and visuospatial memory, as well as dementia in older adults. In children, sleep apnea has been associated with learning disabilities.
- Diseases of the heart and blood vessels, such as atherosclerosis, heart attacks, heart failure, difficult-to-control high blood pressure, and stroke
- Eye disorders, such as glaucoma, dry eye, or keratoconus
- Metabolic disorders, including glucose intolerance and type 2 diabetes
- Pregnancy complications, including gestational diabetes and gestational high blood pressure, as well as having a baby with low birth weight
It has now become a deep, personal mission for you to combat your sleep apnea. Not only for the sake of a bigger paycheck, but for you to live healthy enough, so you can enjoy the rest of your life with your friends and dearest ones.
For a busy person like you, you can start with smart and healthier choices. The simple habit of changing up your eating habits can already help. Limit alcohol intake and quit smoking as well. If you do not have time constraints, try to get as much active as possible. Get your butt off and sweat your heart out. Most importantly, always aim to get that right amount of sleep.
However, if your sleep apnea persists, you may want to take some drastic measures. One common treatment that most patients go through is using a CPAP machine. Continuous Positive Airway Pressure, is a treatment that uses mild air pressure to keep your breathing airways open. Just make sure that the one you use is a safe and certified one.
CPAP Machine and CPAP Cleaner
It includes a mask or other device that fits over your nose or your nose and mouth, straps to position the mask, a tube that connects the mask to the machine’s motor, and a motor that blows air into the tube.
The use of CPAP machine should happen every time you sleep at home or during naps. If you want a thorough and safe approach, consult your doctor before using one.
Make sure to maintain your machine at its optimum level of performance and one way of doing it is through regular cleaning. If you choose to avoid soap and water, the best option for you is to use a CPAP cleaner. This modern device utilizes activated oxygen technology or UV light technology. Put one on your CPAP sanitizer and get rid of germs and bacteria. Your CPAP machine cleaner is a worthy investment that you can bank on to finally put this sleep apnea troubles to rest.
Sleep apnea is a silent menace that may prove to be bane of your existence. From the onset, it may seem just a little sleeping disorder that can be ignored. But little by little, it will bring socioeconomic consequences such as impaired job performance, reduced productivity, and workplace absenteeism. More so, it will threaten the very backbone of your health, causing a lot of serious complications if left unchecked.
As serious as it may seems, you can fight it. Start with repairing your lifestyle. Talk to your loved ones. Investing in CPAP machine and CPAP cleaner will go a long way. As long as you make a conscious effort in treating this disorder, you will be alright.
National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute
Balboa Island Dentistry
University of New Hampshire