When you think of summer, you probably think of swimming, cookouts, and vacations. But do you think of sleep apnea?
Here’s why: Your sleep apnea symptoms can actually get worse in the summer.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is one of the most common sleep disorders. The condition occurs when you stop breathing while sleeping. Sleep apnea affects between 20 and 30 million Americans, according to the American Medical Association and other experts.
People with obstructive sleep apnea tend to snore loudly, experience pauses in breathing, and sometimes even stop breathing altogether. These episodes happen hundreds of times each night and last anywhere from 10 seconds to several minutes.
During the daytime, people with sleep apnea feel exhausted and may struggle to concentrate and remember things. Some people may also notice loud snoring at night. Luckily, there are many different options for effective sleep apnea patient treatment that can improve quality of life.
What Causes Sleep Apnea?
The most common cause of sleep apnea is a blockage or collapse of the airway during sleep. This blockage prevents airflow through the nose and mouth, causing oxygen levels to drop and carbon dioxide levels to rise. The brain senses this change in oxygen and carbon dioxide levels and wakes the person up to breathe again.
Obstructive sleep apnea is caused by an anatomical problem such as enlarged tonsils, nasal polyps or a deviated septum. Other causes include obesity, smoking, alcohol use and certain medications.
How Does Sleep Apnea Affect My Health?
If untreated, sleep apnea can lead to serious health problems, including high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, memory loss, depression, anxiety and more. It’s important to treat sleep apnea because it can be dangerous if left untreated.
If you have sleep apnea, you might:
- Snore excessively throughout the night
- Have periods in which you don’t breath properly
- Wake yourself up out of deep sleep
- Have daytime sleepiness
- Experience headaches
- Lose weight without trying
- Not remember things
- Struggle concentrating and making decisions
- Get into accidents due to falling asleep at the wheel
- Have trouble staying awake while driving
- Struggle with relationships
- Be less productive at work
- Have difficulty maintaining a healthy lifestyle
Treating Sleep Apnea
There are two main types of treatment options for sleep apnea: surgical and non-invasive. Surgical treatments include oral appliances (such as mandibular advancement devices), surgery or continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). Non-invasive treatments include weight loss, positional therapy and other behavioral therapies.
The Signs of Sleep Apnea
If you have any of these signs, it could mean you have sleep apnea:
- Loud snoring
- Frequent waking up during the night
- Excessive sweating or body temperature changes
- Difficulties staying awake during the day
- Feeling tired all the time
- Difficulty concentrating
- Shortness of breath
- Sore throat
- Dental problems
Why Does Sleep Apnea Get Worse In The Summer?
Here are just some of the reasons your sleep apnea and overall sleep quality can be affected in the summer:
1. You may not get as much sleep. Quality of sleep and quantity of sleep definitely matter, especially when you have sleep apnea. During the summer, days are much longer. Your schedule may be busier, and your regular routines are off, so you may not get a “good night’s sleep” of a full seven to nine hours.
2. You’re traveling. Your sleep routine may be “off” due to your summer vacation plans.
3. You may be drinking more alcohol. Alcohol can make your sleep apnea symptoms worse. It makes it harder to breathe and relaxes muscles throughout your body.
4. You may be eating less healthy foods. Ice cream, pizza and all the snacks of summer can cause weight gain, which can worsen your sleep apnea.
5. You may be exercising less. If you’re getting plenty of exercise during the winter months, then you might need to start doing more physical activity in the summertime if you want to maintain your health and keep your weight under control. This will help keep your sleep apnea symptoms under control too.
6. You may be exposed to higher temperatures. Higher temperatures can increase your risk of developing heat-related illnesses like heat stroke, dehydration and heart attacks. This can affect your ability to stay asleep and rest properly.
7. You may be exposed more to allergens. Allergies can trigger sinus congestion, which can contribute to breathing problems and irritation of the airway.
Do you have sleep apnea? Let’s talk about how we can help treat your condition. Call us now to schedule a consultation.