Sleep comes naturally to most of us when we enter this world. But as we grow up, many individuals find themselves chasing sleep. A growing reason for this in the United States is a condition known as sleep apnea.
The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) defines sleep apnea as a “disorder in which you have one or more pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while you sleep.
People who suffer from sleep apnea are often tired from lack of sleep –even after sleeping 8 or 9 hours. Their sleep is often interrupted. The pauses in breathing can be ongoing resulting in those individuals moving from deep sleep into light sleep. As a result, they awaken sometimes feeling even more tired in the morning and throughout the day.
This causes decreased productivity at work (and home). According to the NHLBI, “Sleep apnea is a leading cause of excessive daytime sleepiness. In 2013 the engineer of a Metro North train nodded off at the controls; the train derailed killing 4 and injuring 70. Findings of an investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) reported that he suffered from a sleep disorder that was undiagnosed.
During the period when I struggled with an additional 50 pounds of post-pregnancy weight, I had bouts of sleep apnea. I recall on several occasions being awakened from my sleep by the sound of my snore in attempt to breathe. At the time I was also battling additional health challenges (including high blood pressure) and under a great deal of stress.
Currently there is no blood test to detect sleep apnea and it is not caught during routine doctor visits. This is why it goes undiagnosed and many people unknowingly suffer with this disorder.
People with sleep apnea have excessive narrowing of throat muscles when they sleep. This causes airflow in and out of the lungs to cease – hence they stop breathing and sleep is disturbed. Being overweight can have a significant effect. The wall of the windpipe, thickened by extra soft fat tissue, narrows the inside of the windpipe making it more difficult to keep open.
Lack of air causes low blood oxygen levels during sleep, which triggers the release of stress hormones.
These stress hormones raise your heart rate. If left untreated, sleep apnea can increase your risk of:
It can also bring about changes in how your body uses energy. These changes can increase your risk of diabetes and obesity.
People with sleep apnea have a higher chance of work-related or driving accidents. They are also more likely to develop irregular heartbeats called arrhythmias. Long-term management of this condition is required due to its ongoing nature. In most cases, it can be successfully treated by changing your lifestyle, or with mouthpieces, surgery, and breathing devices.
A well-designed exercise program can help you reduce the symptoms of sleep apnea. Side effects of following a good program include restful sleep, reduced stress hormones, increased lung capacity, higher blood oxygen levels, and more energy.
Get help for your condition before it progresses. Your exercise prescription should help you breathe better at night and during the day. If done right, it will also improve the way your body uses energy allowing it to utilize energy with less exercise than you’d expect.
Call us at (914) 665-2084 for the moves that can help you sleep better.
Using over 20 years of experience in healthcare, research and fitness, Sonya teaches her clients to use movements that aid them in improving their health. She is best known for helping them get results they can see and feel in less time.