In a world where restful sleep is often an elusive dream, sleep disorders like sleep apnea stand as significant challenges to our well-being. We sat down with our distinguished RT. Safiya Adamu, a respiratory therapist with a passion for helping people with sleep apnea at Lagos Executive Cardiovascular Centre (LECC), to delve into the depths of sleep apnea, its implications, and the approaches to bring a peaceful night’s sleep back into the lives of patients.
Unveiling Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea, a common yet often misunderstood sleep disorder, affects millions worldwide. This condition disrupts breathing during sleep, causing brief but recurrent awakenings, leading to daytime fatigue, impaired cognitive function, and even severe health issues such as cardiovascular problems. In our interview with RT. Safiya Adamu, she shed light on the multifaceted nature of sleep apnea and its impact on overall well-being by answering common and pressing questions;
Briefly explain what sleep apnea is.
Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that happens when breathing stops and starts while you slumber. If it goes untreated, it can cause loud snoring, daytime tiredness, or more serious problems like heart trouble or high blood pressure.
What are some common misconceptions about sleep apnea, and how can we debunk these myths to promote better understanding?
Some of the most common myths and misconceptions of sleep apnea are that:
- Sleep apnea does not occur in children.
- Sleep apnea occurs in overweight people only.
- Everyone who snores has sleep apnea.
- Everyone who has sleep apnea snores.
- Sleep apnea is a men’s condition.
The best way to debunk all these myths and misconceptions is to visit an expert once you are experiencing symptoms and signs of sleep apnea to have it diagnosed and ruled out.
Are there any specific risk factors or health conditions that may increase the likelihood of developing sleep apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea is mostly seen in people with obesity, narrowing of the upper airways, large tonsils, or large neck circumference, while central sleep apnea happens most often in people with neuromuscular disease such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease), those who’ve had a stroke, or in people with heart failure or other forms of heart, kidney, or lung disease.
How can individuals assess their sleep quality at home, and when is it essential to consult a sleep specialist for a comprehensive evaluation?
You usually won’t notice your first symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea. Instead, your bed partner may make you aware of them. The most common signs and symptoms are:
- Fatigue or sleepiness during the day
- Restlessness while sleeping, or regular night-time awakenings
- Dry mouth or sore throat when you wake up
- Waking up suddenly after gasping or choking
- Trouble concentrating, forgetfulness, or crankiness
- Depression or anxiety
- Constant need to go pee at night
- Night sweats
- Sexual dysfunction
Watching out for these can help one assess if he/she has sleep apnea or other sleep related issues.
Once these signs and symptoms become regular and start to interfere with our daily routine and wellbeing then one should consult a sleep specialist for proper diagnosis and management.
What are some strategies to improve sleep hygiene and promote better sleep patterns for individuals at risk of or diagnosed with sleep apnea?
Paying attention to sleep hygiene is one of the most straightforward ways that you can set yourself up for better sleep.
Optimizing your sleep schedule, pre-bed routine, and daily routines are part of harnessing habits to make quality sleep feel more automatic. At the same time, creating a pleasant bedroom environment can be an invitation to relax and doze off. Keeping a healthy diet and not eating too close to bedtime.
Also investing in a good mattress and pillow and the use of humidifier can also help get a restful night sleep and help with ventilation.
Can sleep apnea be managed effectively without medical intervention, or is professional treatment necessary for most cases?
Lifestyle and behavioral changes can help treat sleep apnea symptoms. A number of steps are recommended by health experts as a first-line treatment for sleep apnea, such as changing sleep positions, avoiding alcohol and certain medications, and exercising regularly.
Other approaches may be less common, or their effectiveness may be unclear, such as acupuncture and herbal remedies, though some individuals find them helpful.
How can individuals support a loved one with sleep apnea, and what resources are available for patients and their families to cope with the condition?
Basically, what a person who has sleep apnea needs is emotional support and financial support from family members and close relation as treatment can be on the high side. Encouragement to adhere to diet changes, other lifestyle changes and using a CPAP and how to maintain it are all available to patients and their families.
What is a sleep study and what does it involve and do?
Sleep study, also known as Polysomnography, is a test used to diagnose sleep disorders. Polysomnography records your brain waves, the oxygen level in your blood, and your heart rate and breathing during sleep. It also measures eye and leg movements.
A sleep study may be done at a sleep disorders unit within a hospital or at a sleep centre or even at home. The test is usually performed at night.
Why would I possibly need a CPAP machine?
CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) is a machine that uses mild air pressure to keep breathing airways open while you sleep.
Your healthcare provider may prescribe CPAP or APAP to treat sleep-related breathing disorders including sleep apnea.
As we bid farewell to our insightful conversation with RT. Safiya Adamu, one thing becomes abundantly clear – sleep apnea is a complex puzzle, but with experts like her leading the way, the pieces are falling into place. If you or a loved one is grappling with sleep apnea, know that there is hope, and the journey towards restful sleep starts with a knowledgeable and compassionate guide.
Stay tuned for more enlightening conversations and valuable insights as we continue our mission to shed light on various health issues and the experts who champion their treatment.
For more information about sleep apnea and to schedule a consultation at LECC, Sleep Clinic, please call +234 817 365 1737 or mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.