The Effects of Sleep Apnea and its Health Risks

The effects of sleep apnea can cause serious health issues if left untreated.

We’ve all had nights full of tossing and turning and have had to suffer the consequences of the lack of sleep the following day; no amount of coffee can wake you up and time seems to be crawling.

The sleepiness and fatigue may feel like torture but the long term effects on your health is where the danger really lies.  

This article by Sleep Advisor suggests that the average adult needs anywhere from 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night. It is said that this helps restore the mind and body for the following day. Additionally, people that sleep an average of 6-7 hours a night are at a higher risk of developing diseases.  

How Sleep Apnea Affects Your Sleep

There are many health complications that come with sleep apnea but how does it affect your sleep? Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder in which you regularly start and stop breathing while you sleep.

Many people that suffer from sleep apnea aren’t even aware of it. This is a serious concern since more than 18 million Americans have sleep apnea, but only 20% have been diagnosed and treated. If left untreated the effects of sleep apnea could potentially be fatal.

Sleep Deprivation

Sleep deprivation is one of the major side effects of sleep apnea. This can have an effect on your day-to-day life, your job, and your interactions with others. This is particularly true when your job requires you to remain alert and focused, or to provide outstanding customer service.

This becomes an issue because when you suffer from sleep apnea you tend to feel prone to exhaustion each day. If you are not getting the rest you need, it can severely impact your job performance.

You are not the only one that can be affected by sleep deprivation. Loud snoring, which is a symptom of sleep apnea, can keep anyone who sleeps near you from getting good rest.

Being sleep deprived also makes you a big public safety hazard every day on the road. Drowsiness can slow reaction time as much as driving drunk does and we’ve all seen how much damage and heartache that causes.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that fatigue, a side effect of sleep deprivation, is the cause in 100,000 auto crashes and 1,550 crash-related deaths a year in the U.S.

This problem is especially true among adults under 25 years old. AAA surveyed U.S. drivers that operate their vehicles on the highway and 43% of them admitted to falling asleep or nodding off while driving at least once in their life.

The Health Risks

sleep apnea deprivation

In addition to sleep deprivation, sleep apnea can lead to a multitude of health risks.

According to the Mayo Clinic, some of the health complications include:

  • High blood pressure or heart problems. Sudden drops in blood oxygen levels that occur during sleep apnea increase blood pressure (hypertension) and strains the cardiovascular system.
    • Obstructive sleep apnea can increase your risk of a heart attack, stroke and other serious issues and concerns.
  • Type 2 diabetes. Having sleep apnea increases your risk of developing insulin resistance.
  • Metabolic syndrome. This disorder can include high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol levels, high blood sugar, and an increase in waist size. This syndrome is linked to a higher risk of heart disease.
  • Complications with medications and surgery. sleep apnea can be a concern when taking certain medications. People with sleep apnea are likely to have complications after major surgery because of breathing and sleeping problems.
    • Before you have surgery, make sure that you tell your doctor about your sleep apnea.
  • Liver problems. People are more likely to have abnormal results of liver function tests, and their livers are more likely to show signs of scarring (nonalcoholic fatty liver disease).

Additional health risks for sleep apnea can include:

  • A weakened immune system
  • Respiratory diseases
  • Weight gain
  • Inflammation
  • A lack of hormone production
  • Depression
  • Increased risk of stroke

New studies have found that elderly people with untreated severe sleep apnea are at an even greater risk of stroke.

The Effects of Sleep Apnea

Suffering from sleep apnea is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the risks to your health. The effects of sleep apnea, If left untreated or undiagnosed, can create a volatile combination of health complications that can be fatal.

If you are experiencing loud snoring, waking up with dry mouth, morning headaches, insomnia, or excessive daytime sleepiness, you may be suffering from sleep apnea and should contact your physician today.

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August 14, 2020 3

A. Giudice

A Sleep Professional with over 20 years of industry experience, a healthy respect for research and a slightly sarcastic writing style.