Do you snore? Nod off while watching the footy? Wake up with a headache? Have trouble concentrating during the day?
These are all symptoms of sleep apnoea, a surprisingly common condition in which the upper airways are temporarily blocked during sleep, interrupting breathing and starving the body of essential oxygen.
Breathing may be stopped for more than a minute at a time, and these pauses in breathing may occur hundreds of times each night. This leads to fragmented sleep and a range of daytime and night time symptoms like fatigue, excessive sleepiness and poor concentration.
Sleep apnoea can also increase the risk of vehicle accidents and sufferers may have an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Sleep apnoea is estimated to affect 1 in 20 Australians, and one in four men over the age of 30 years. It is more common in people with type 2 diabetes.
Testing for sleep apnoea is simple and easy. A small device worn during a night’s sleep at home (pictured below) measures breathing patterns and the body’s oxygen levels. This information can then be analysed by a sleep doctor to determine how many times a night breathing is interrupted.
Stopping breathing every night sounds rather serious, but fortunately there are a range of treatment options available to help get things back on track.
Firstly, sleep apnoea is worsened by excess weight and alcohol consumption, so weight loss and moderating alcohol intake are good starting points.
Other treatment options include a mask worn at night (like the one shown below) that delivers air pressure to prevent the airways from collapsing, a mouthguard that holds the jaw forward during sleep, and in some cases surgery may be recommended.
If you or your partner snores or has symptoms like those listed above, getting tested for sleep apnoea is worth considering. At Community Care Chemist Geelong West we offer an easy at-home sleep test, and we’re here to answer any questions you may have.