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What is Sleep Apnea? Symptoms, Risks, and Solutions

It starts innocently enough. Have you ever thought or said one of the statements below, or something similar?

“We’re all overscheduled — everyone goes through life exhausted.”

“My [insert health problem here] is a product of getting older. It’s just bad luck.”

“I’m just a snorer. Always have been.”

“My partner says I stop breathing in my sleep, but I don’t feel any different than I always have.”

“I wake up with a headache and dry mouth every morning. That’s just how it is.”

Notice a theme with these statements? There’s a tone of acceptance and resignation. Theres a willingness to wave away very serious health concerns — the kinds that negatively impact your quality of life in the short term and increase your risk of life-threatening complications in the long term. There’s a sense that just because something has been an issue for a long time, or the issue doesn’t seem acutely dangerous in the moment, it must not be a big deal.

Many people have sleep apnea and don’t know it. Some assume this is just “how things are.” Some are acutely aware there’s a problem, but don’t know what to do about it. 

No matter what level of awareness you have about this very serious health issue, one thing is certain: Your sleep isn’t as good as it could be. For almost everyone with sleep apnea, sleep problems spill over into other aspects of life, resulting in a variety of unpleasant and potentially life-shortening consequences. 

Sleep apnea can affect anyone.1 And unfortunately, it affects a whole lot of people — more than 18 million adults in the United States alone.2 Globally, researchers estimate that up to 1 billion people may be undiagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).3 It affects all age groups and sexes, though men are two to three times more likely to suffer from it. (For women, the risk rises if you’re overweight and/or have experienced menopause.4

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts. The signs and symptoms include: 

  • Loud snoring
  • Gasping sounds while sleeping (often reported by a concerned partner)
  • Waking up with a dry mouth
  • Morning headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Trouble focusing during the day
  • Irritability
  • Constant tiredness

There are many types of sleep apnea, but the most common are obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea and complex sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most common. It’s also the type of sleep apnea that we diagnose and treat at Dream Again. 

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What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

There are a number of factors that can make your breathing stop and start while you’re sleeping.

In OSA, the culprit is relaxation of the muscles in the back of your throat. To visualize what muscles we’re talking about, picture the inside of your mouth. You likely haven’t done a ton of studying this part of your anatomy, but understand that the back-of-the-throat muscles support all the parts of your mouth. They’re connected to the roof of your mouth (the soft palate), that funny-looking flap hanging above your throat (the uvula), the flaps on each sides of the uvula (the tonsils), and the side walls of your throat and tongue. 

It’s important to emphasize how all the above parts of your oral anatomy work together. When those back-of-the-throat muscles relax, it causes your airway to narrow or even completely close during your inhalations.

The narrow airway leads to insufficient air intake, which leads to lowered oxygen levels in your blood. The lowered blood oxygen leads to a panic signal from your brain, which pulls you out of your slumber so that you can breathe in and replenish your depleted blood oxygen levels. 

Of course, getting that oxygen is critical. But when you get pulled out of your sleep cycle repeatedly — and the disruptions occur so quickly that you often have no recollection of them come morning — it wreaks havoc on your health and well-being.

Deep, restorative, rejuvenating sleep — the kind where you dream, where your body has time to recharge and where you exhibit rapid eye movement (REM) — remains just out of your grasp when you have OSA. It’s impossible to get an adequate amount of quality sleep when you’re gasping for breath all night. You keep waking up just as your body’s trying to relax itself. For sufferers of OSA, this destructive pattern can happen every night, all night — from five up to 30 times or more every single hour.

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What Are the Symptoms of Sleep Apnea?

If we only had two words to use, they’d be: “You’re tired.”

Of course, that isn’t helpful, as many people are tired, and such a reductive answer doesn’t do justice to the wide-ranging and profoundly negative effects of living with OSA.

Still, it’s worth stating that sufferers of OSA endure a kind of chronic exhaustion that tends to make sleep — or lack thereof — a constant focal point in their lives.

As anyone who’s suffered a even a single night of poor sleep knows — improper rest has a cascade effect on everything else in your waking life. It can slow you down, dampen your mood, and make you feel like you’re just not at your physical or mental best.

These are some of the immediate symptoms and side effects of OSA.

Signs that You Have OSA — Nighttime

  • Chronic snoring
  • Gasping, choking, sputtering or other breathing irregularities
  • Stopping breathing at night (usually reported by partner)
  • Insomnia

Signs that You Have OSA — Daytime

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Memory lapses
  • Nodding off at inconvenient or unexpected times
  • Excessive sleepiness
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How Do I Know If I Have Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea — particularly OSA — is dangerous, unpleasant, and in some cases, could become deadly. 

Naturally, you’re reading this because you want to know whether or not you’re one of the 1 billion adults worldwide who suffers from it. 

We feel your pain. Dream Again was created to help you quickly identify whether or not you have sleep apnea, so that you can be armed with the proper knowledge to treat it. 

Of course, time is critical. Each night that you don’t get the quantity and quality of rest that you deserve, you resign yourself to yet another day of tiredness, crankiness and low energy. Sleep apnea affects your mood, your productivity and even your lifespan. 

Two out of three adults don’t get the recommended 8 hours of sleep each night. Want to know if you’re one of the 1 in 7 people who suffers from sleep apnea?

You can start by taking our quiz to get a sense of how things are going between the sheets. From there, we’ll send you a simple home sleep test to take whenever you’re ready. We’ll set you up with a one-on-one video consultation with our sleep doctor to discuss your results. Armed with all this knowledge and awareness, you can then make an informed decision about what you need for perfect sleep, and we’ll deliver it to you monthly.

We’ve designed a system that gets you answers and treatment as fast and as seamlessly as humanly possible. 

What Should I Do If I Think I Might Have Sleep Apnea?

You’ve made it through an article that discussed the very serious and concerning symptoms of a problem you’re likely dealing with right now.

It’s time to deliver some good news!

At Dream Again, we created a no-friction, no-nonsense service to get you the help you need ASAP to start sleeping better and to change your life. 

You’ve likely heard of in-lab sleep studies, costly CPAP machines, surgeries, implantation devices and more for treating sleep apnea. Maybe you’re picturing yourself in a strange clinic and a bed you’re not used to. Perhaps you’re already anxious about the thought of having to log hours on hold with your insurance provider regarding coverage and treatment options. 

Naturally, we assume you feel the same way. That’s why we offer a comprehensive sleep apnea diagnostic and treatment system that you can use right in your own home. 

No copays. No deductibles. No office visits. No reimbursement hassles. No long-term contracts. No insurance frustration. 

Yes, you read that right. We’re all about speed, simplicity and transparency. Our sleep therapy programs are user-friendly and affordable — starting at $99/mo.

A good night’s sleep isn’t a luxury — it’s a necessity. With Dream Again, it’s never been easier to get the best sleep of your life. 

You deserve fast answers. You deserve a smooth experience. You deserve to reclaim your nights and to dream again

What are you waiting for?

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