Why this sleep condition could cause more than just restless nights
We’ve all experienced the effects of a bad night’s sleep. You wake up the next day feeling groggy, exhausted and irritable.
For people with sleep apnea, these feelings are all too familiar and may actually be a sign of something more, according to researchers. Sleep apnea is a disorder in which your breathing repeatedly stops and starts.
In a recent study published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, researchers found that obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) may increase the risk for affective disorders, such as depression and anxiety.
The study looked at 985 participants – 197 diagnosed with OSA and a control group of 788 people without the syndrome. Over the course of the nine-year study, participants with OSA were almost three times as likely to be diagnosed with depression and twice as likely to be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder compared to the control group.
“Sleep apnea doesn’t just prevent you from getting sound sleep,” explains Dr. Mitchell Dobberpuhl, an ear, nose & throat specialist/otolaryngologist at Aurora Health Care. “It is a serious disorder that can cause high blood pressure, stroke, heart failure, diabetes and, as seen in this study, depression, anxiety and other affective disorders.”
Sleep is a vital component in your health and well-being. Getting enough quality sleep can improve your brain function, physical health, mental health and how you perform throughout your day. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends adults get seven or more hours of sleep per day.
If you’re having trouble getting enough quality sleep, consider these tips:
- Establish a sleep schedule, going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, including on weekends.
- An hour before bed, start to wind down with quiet and relaxing time. A calming activity like reading is recommended.
- Avoid heavy meals, alcohol, nicotine and caffeine in the evening.
- Exercise daily.
- Avoid long daytime naps.
- Make sure your sleep environment has ideal sleep conditions. Minimize noise and light and aim for a cool temperature between 60-67 degrees.
“If you still are experiencing excessive sleepiness and fatigue during the day or irregular breathing or interruptions during sleep, talk to your doctor to be examined for sleep apnea or another sleep disorder,” Dr. Dobberpuhl advises. “With the proper treatment plan, you can greatly improve your sleep and overall health.”
Having trouble sleeping? To learn more about sleep apnea and your risks, take a free online assessment here.
About the Author
Carla Basiliere, health enews contributor, is a seasoned communications professional with over 15 years of experience in the health care industry. Carla has a BS degree in Mass Communications from the University of Minnesota Mankato. In her free time, Carla enjoys spending time outdoors with family and friends.