Can sleep apnea kill you? This is a weighty question that you should be asking yourself if you are concerned about a sleeping disorder you might have. As with any other ailment, if left undiagnosed, there is a possibility that you could die from sleep apnea in a few ways.
Sleep is, by far, one of the most crucial steps to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and it is more important than you might think. Thus, it’s best to know how sleep apnea affects your health. You should also have an idea of the symptoms to keep an eye out for to know when it’s time to seek professional help.
What Are the Symptoms of Sleep Apnea?
Most people assume they have sleep apnea simply because they snore when, in fact, that isn’t always the case. Although snoring is one of the main symptoms of sleep apnea, it doesn’t automatically mean that you have a sleep disorder if you snore.
There are numerous ways to tell whether you should be seeking medical attention for sleep apnea. Here are the most common ones:
1. Loud and Excessive Snoring
Regular snoring is expected, especially if you’re someone who snored their entire life or if you’re taking certain medications. However, if you’ve been snoring substantially louder than ever before, you’ve likely developed sleep apnea.
It is highly recommended you seek professional help if your snoring patterns have changed and worsened. This theory is especially true if you are waking yourself or others in the middle of the night because of how loud you are while asleep. Most people go to a sleep clinic as a result of complaints from a partner or roommate who can’t tolerate the excessive nature of the other party’s snoring.
2. Interrupted Breathing
It’s common for people with sleep apnea to stop breathing when they are sleeping. No breathing results in waking up numerous times throughout the night and having an incredibly disrupted sleep schedule. You might have even had a conversation with a loved one about how you randomly stopped breathing in the middle of your sleep one night.
Interrupted breathing can also lead to waking up choking and gasping for air, as your throat muscles have relaxed so much that your airways are blocked. Intermittent breathing is also one of the most dangerous symptoms of sleep apnea, as interrupted sleep can cause heart problems over time.
On the opposite end of the spectrum from insomnia, hypersomnia means you have an incredibly difficult time staying awake during the day. Daytime sleepiness is a prevalent symptom of sleep apnea because of your interrupted sleep at night. This symptom can affect your memory, irritability level, and concentration.
Over time, hypersomnia can become increasingly difficult to live with, especially if you have a high-demand job during the day. It can also be tough to make up for lost sleep, which can cause you to rely on sleeping pills to oversleep during the day. Oversleeping is equally as detrimental as undersleeping, according to multiple studies.
Can Sleep Apnea Kill You? The Truth
Now that you know the three most common signs and symptoms of sleep apnea, it’s time to discuss how much of an effect it has on your overall health.
Sleep apnea is more than powerful enough to kill you, especially if it is left untreated for years. As over 80% of diagnosable sleep apnea cases are undiagnosed, it’s a pressing concern. At this point, the question isn’t if sleep apnea can kill you, it’s more on how it can.
1. Reduced Oxygenation
By far, the most critical issue presented by sleep apnea is reduced oxygenation. A healthy sleeper without any sleep disorders will acquire 100% oxygenation while unconscious, according to Virend Somers, M.D., Ph.D., Mayo Clinic. Those living with sleep apnea, though, will receive a maximum of 78% oxygen saturation, which is 22% below normal healthy levels.
At any point in time, when your body’s oxygen levels drop below 90%, your body enters something called hypoxemia. Hypoxemia can lead to lung disease, heart disease, and even brain damage. The more often your body enters this state, the more damage it does to your internal organs, which can create short- and long-term effects.
2. Cardiac Arrhythmia
Even though reduced oxygenation can be highly dangerous in the short and long term, cardiac arrhythmia is another huge ailment to consider. This is the number one cause of sudden death in one’s sleep as a result of sleep apnea. With a cardiac arrhythmia, the heart may experience a myocardial infarction (heart attack), atrial fibrillation, and strokes.
In patients who have died suddenly in their sleep because of sleep apnea, it is found that these heart problems occur closer to the morning when the body enters REM sleep. It is also important to note that in these instances, individuals have been suffering from sleep apnea for years. However, you must visit a specialist if you are concerned about your sleeping habits.
3. Memory Problems
If you’ve ever had a miserable night’s sleep, you are more than aware of how difficult it is to concentrate the following day. Memory problems are one of the most significant short-term issues people with sleep apnea experience as well as the inability to concentrate. If you have a career where you need to focus and be attentive, such as construction, dealing with memory and concentration problems can be deadly.
There have also been studies that suggest a correlation between sleep apnea and Alzheimer’s. According to a preliminary investigation, participants with sleep apnea have higher levels of tau in their brains. Tau is an Alzheimer’s disease biomarker that helps with memory retention.
In the study, 288 people over the age of 65 without cognitive impairment were studied. Their partners answered whether they had noticed if the participant had ever stopped breathing in their sleep. Those who had partners who said yes then underwent PET scans to search for tau tangles.
15% of the study group had partners who said they had witnessed sleep apnea episodes, and amongst those 43 participants, 4.5% had higher levels of tau in their entorhinal cortex.
4. Uncontrolled Weight Gain
One of the most critical factors needed to prevent weight gain is energy, as it assists you with staying active during the day. When you have poor sleep at night, you’re far more likely to have less energy daily, resulting in less activity. Uncontrolled weight gain is undoubtedly one of the many issues your body will experience from sleep apnea.
Aside from suffering from uninterrupted sleep, it is also vital to note that weight gain leads to various other health ailments. For example, you’re more likely to have insulin resistance, leading to diabetes. There’s also a higher likelihood of heart disease when your weight isn’t managed.
By seeking professional assistance, you can make sure you get enough sleep at night. This step helps your energy levels to stay where they should be, for optimal daily activity.
How to Treat Sleep Apnea
You’ve likely heard of the more invasive procedures used to treat sleep apnea, such as surgery. You may have also considered getting a CPAP machine, but what if you could use a less costly and highly effective treatment plan?
The Stop Snoring and Sleep Apnea Program is highly recommended for snorers of all types and individuals suffering from sleep apnea.
Designed to suit the needs of every individual, you will receive four custom-made exercises designed for your comfort and well-being at night. By allocating up to seven minutes of your time daily to these exercises, you can significantly reduce your chances of snoring. In addition, by strengthening the key areas of your respiratory system responsible for sleep apnea, you will finally be able to sleep through the night.
This program is highly recommended because it is quick, convenient, and can be useful when taken seriously and done correctly. Also, it reduces your chances of needing surgery or oral devices for healthy breathing at night.
If you’ve ever wondered, can sleep apnea kill you, there are multiple ways it can negatively affect your health. Without treatment and help from a specialist, you are far more likely to suffer from heart disease, diabetes, obesity, memory loss, and irritability than ever before.
Visit the Stop Snoring and Sleep Apnea Program to find your exercises so that you can rest more peacefully.