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People with sleep apnoea stop breathing for short periods of time during their sleep, resulting in the brain not getting enough oxygen. Loud snoring may be a sign of sleep apnoea, often leaving you and your partner exhausted during the day. Let’s have a look at the different types of sleep apnoea, and what you can do to improve the quality of your sleep.
Obstructive sleep apnoea
This type of sleep apnoea is the most common form, the NSF (National Sleep Foundation) states that around 5-20% of adults is affected by this disorder. It is characterized by short pauses in breathing or periods of shallow breathing during sleep as a result of throat muscles that relax and block your airway during sleep. Symptoms are often first detected by a partner, and signs of OSA include loud snoring, noisy breathing and periods where the breathing stops briefly. Moreover, people with OSA could wake up with a dry mouth and finding themselves going to the bathroom more often. So, how do you know whether you’re suffering from apnoea or you’re just a normal snorer?
Diagnosing OSA can be done by observing your sleeping at a sleep clinic, and it is important to see your GP in case you or your partner think you have OSA.
Central sleep apnoea
In this type of sleep apnoea, the airway is not blocked — unlike OSA — but the brain fails to signal the muscles that control breathing, so excessive snoring is uncommon. This can be as a result of heart failure and stroke but sleeping at a high altitude is also known to cause central sleep apnoea. Symptoms are similar to those of OSA:
- Feeling tired during the day
- Experiencing headaches in the morning
- Having difficulties to concentrate
- Mood problems
The same can be said for diagnosing, as it’s advisable to talk to your GP when you suspect you might have central sleep apnoea, who can then refer you to a sleep clinic for further tests and treatment.
Treating sleep apnoea —What can you do yourself?
Besides going to a sleep clinic where healthcare professionals can monitor your sleep and develop a treatment plan, there are several things you can try:
Your weight matters
The most common cause of OSA is being overweight and having obesity, which is linked to the soft tissue of the mouth and throat. It is therefore recommended by doctors and healthcare professionals that losing at least two stone can already improve your sleep quality.
Adjust your sleeping position
Sleeping on your side as opposed to on your back can not only reduce the chance of snoring, but can also offer relief from neck and back pain.
Wear a mouthpiece
Oral appliances are a good alternative to surgery or other procedures, and it can help people who suffer from mild or moderate obstructive sleep apnoea. There is a wide range of different mouthpieces on the market. Therasnore, for example, which is a small mouthpiece that fits securely on the upper teeth meaning that you’re able to move the lower jaw normally.