Sleep Apnea: The Common, Yet Misunderstood Sleep Disorder
Lung health Everyone knows what it’s like to have a bad sleep; you feel groggy and irritated the next day, and completing tasks that you normally do with ease can seem difficult.
Imagine if you slept badly every single night — many would agree that this may have a negative impact on every aspect of your life.
Making life hard
This is what some sufferers of sleep apnea experience, a common and chronic sleep disorder that’s characterized by pauses in breathing or shallow breaths during sleep. Caused by blockages in the airwaves, each pause in breathing (apnea) can last from a few seconds to several minutes in length, and can occur up to 30 times an hour.
"Sleep apnea can either wake up the sufferer completely or move them out of a deep sleep and into a lighter one, both of which lead to irregular, unsettling
Sleep apnea can either wake up the sufferer completely or move them out of a deep sleep and into a lighter one, both of which lead to irregular, unsettling
“People can wake up in the morning feeling like they haven’t slept all night, even though they actually slept for nine or ten hours,” says Nurse Practitioner Jennifer Olajos-Clow, who, as well as treating people with respiratory issues like sleep apnea, also suffered with the condition herself.
The long-term effects can be even more serious, as Olajos-Clow herself experienced.
“I suffered with horrific depression and anxiety before being diagnosed,” she says. “I got sent to a psychiatrist and it just so happened that the psychiatrist I saw works with a sleep specialist.”
“People can wake up in the morning feeling like they haven’t slept all night, even though they actually slept for nine or ten hours.”
After visiting the specialist and being diagnosed with sleep apnea, Olajos-Clow was advised to get a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine. “Within two months of using it my world was completely different,” she says. “I was back to normal, or what I call normal anyway!”