Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts. If you snore loudly and feel tired even after a full night's sleep, you might have sleep apnea.
The main types of sleep apnea are:
Obstructive sleep apnea, the more common form that occurs when throat muscles relax
Central sleep apnea, which occurs when your brain doesn't send proper signals to the muscles that control breathing
Complex sleep apnea syndrome, also known as treatment-emergent central sleep apnea, which occurs when someone has both obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea
If you think you might have sleep apnea, see your doctor. Treatment can ease your symptoms and might help prevent heart problems and other complications.
The signs and symptoms of obstructive and central sleep apneas overlap, sometimes making it difficult to determine which type you have. The most common signs and symptoms of obstructive and central sleep apneas include:
Episodes in which you stop breathing during sleep — which would be reported by another person
Gasping for air during sleep
Awakening with a dry mouth
Difficulty staying asleep (insomnia)
Excessive daytime sleepiness (hypersomnia)
Difficulty paying attention while awake
When to see a doctor
Loud snoring can indicate a potentially serious problem, but not everyone who has sleep apnea snores. Talk to your doctor if you have signs or symptoms of sleep apnea. Ask your doctor about any sleep problem that leaves you fatigued, sleepy and irritable.
Obstructive sleep apnea
This occurs when the muscles in the back of your throat relax. These muscles support the soft palate, the triangular piece of tissue hanging from the soft palate (uvula), the tonsils, the side walls of the throat and the tongue.
When the muscles relax, your airway narrows or closes as you breathe in. You can't get enough air, which can lower the oxygen level in your blood. Your brain senses your inability to breathe and briefly rouses you from sleep so that you can reopen your airway. This awakening is usually so brief that you don't remember it.
You might snort, choke or gasp. This pattern can repeat itself five to 30 times or more each hour, all night, impairing your ability to reach the deep, restful phases of sleep.
Central sleep apnea
This less common form of sleep apnea occurs when your brain fails to transmit signals to your breathing muscles. This means that you make no effort to breathe for a short period. You might awaken with shortness of breath or have a difficult time getting to sleep or staying asleep.
Sleep apnea can affect anyone, even children. But certain factors increase your risk.
Obstructive sleep apnea
Factors that increase the risk of this form of sleep apnea include:
Excess weight. Obesity greatly increases the risk of sleep apnea. Fat deposits around your upper airway can obstruct your breathing.
Neck circumference. People with thicker necks might have narrower airways.
A narrowed airway. You might have inherited a narrow throat. Tonsils or adenoids also can enlarge and block the airway, particularly in children.
Being male. Men are two to three times more likely to have sleep apnea than are women. However, women increase their risk if they're overweight, and their risk also appears to rise after menopause.
Being older. Sleep apnea occurs significantly more often in older adults.
Family history. Having family members with sleep apnea might increase your risk.
Use of alcohol, sedatives or tranquilizers. These substances relax the muscles in your throat, which can worsen obstructive sleep apnea.
Smoking. Smokers are three times more likely to have obstructive sleep apnea than are people who've never smoked. Smoking can increase the amount of inflammation and fluid retention in the upper airway.
Nasal congestion. If you have difficulty breathing through your nose — whether from an anatomical problem or allergies — you're more likely to develop obstructive sleep apnea.
Central sleep apnea
Risk factors for this form of sleep apnea include:
Being older. Middle-aged and older people have a higher risk of central sleep apnea.
Being male. Central sleep apnea is more common in men than it is in women.
Heart disorders. Having congestive heart failure increases the risk.
Using narcotic pain medications. Opioid medications, especially long-acting ones such as methadone, increase the risk of central sleep apnea.
Stroke. Having had a stroke increases your risk of central sleep apnea or treatment-emergent central sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is a serious medical condition. Complications can include:
Daytime fatigue. The repeated awakenings associated with sleep apnea make normal, restorative sleep impossible, making severe daytime drowsiness, fatigue and irritability likely.
You might have difficulty concentrating and find yourself falling asleep at work, while watching TV or even when driving. People with sleep apnea have an increased risk of motor vehicle and workplace accidents.
You might also feel quick-tempered, moody or depressed. Children and adolescents with sleep apnea might perform poorly in school or have behavior problems.
High blood pressure or heart problems. Sudden drops in blood oxygen levels that occur during sleep apnea increase blood pressure and strain the cardiovascular system. Having obstructive sleep apnea increases your risk of high blood pressure (hypertension).
Obstructive sleep apnea might also increase your risk of recurrent heart attack, stroke and abnormal heartbeats, such as atrial fibrillation. If you have heart disease, multiple episodes of low blood oxygen (hypoxia or hypoxemia) can lead to sudden death from an irregular heartbeat.
Type 2 diabetes. Having sleep apnea increases your risk of developing insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
Metabolic syndrome. This disorder, which includes high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol levels, high blood sugar, and increased waist circumference, is linked to a higher risk of heart disease.
Complications with medications and surgery. Obstructive sleep apnea is also a concern with certain medications and general anesthesia. People with sleep apnea might be more likely to have complications after major surgery because they're prone to breathing problems, especially when sedated and lying on their backs.
Before you have surgery, tell your doctor about your sleep apnea and how it's being treated.
Liver problems. People with sleep apnea are more likely to have abnormal results on liver function tests, and their livers are more likely to show signs of scarring (nonalcoholic fatty liver disease).
Sleep-deprived partners. Loud snoring can keep anyone who sleeps near you from getting good rest. It's not uncommon for a partner to have to go to another room, or even to another floor of the house, to be able to sleep.
Restless Legs Syndrome
Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a disorder of the part of the nervous system that causes an urge to move the legs. Because it usually interferes with sleep, it also is considered a sleep disorder.
Symptoms of Restless Legs Syndrome
People with restless legs syndrome have uncomfortable sensations in their legs (and sometimes arms or other parts of the body) and an irresistible urge to move their legs to relieve the sensations. The condition causes an uncomfortable, "itchy," "pins and needles," or "creepy-crawly" feeling in the legs. The sensations are usually worse at rest, especially when lying or sitting.
The severity of RLS symptoms ranges from mild to intolerable. Symptoms can come and go and severity can also vary. The symptoms are generally worse in the evening and at night. For some people, symptoms may cause severe nightly sleep disruption that can significantly impair their quality of life.
Who Gets Restless Legs Syndrome?
Restless legs syndrome may affect up to 10% of the U.S. population. It affects both sexes, but is more common in women and may begin at any age, even in young children. Most people who are affected severely are middle-aged or older.
RLS is often unrecognized or misdiagnosed. This is especially true if the symptoms are intermittent or mild. Once correctly diagnosed, RLS can often be treated successfully.
Causes of Restless Legs Syndrome
In most cases, doctors do not know the cause of restless legs syndrome; however, they suspect that genes play a role. Nearly half of people with RLS also have a family member with the condition.
Other factors associated with the development or worsening of restless legs syndrome include:
Chronic diseases. Certain chronic diseases and medical conditions, including iron deficiency, Parkinson’s disease, kidney failure, diabetes, and peripheral neuropathy often include symptoms of RLS. Treating these conditions often gives some relief from RLS symptoms.
Medications. Some types of medications, including antinausea drugs, antipsychotic drugs, some antidepressants, and cold and allergy medications containing sedating antihistamines, may worsen symptoms.
Pregnancy. Some women experience RLS during pregnancy, especially in the last trimester. Symptoms usually go away within a month after delivery.
Other factors, including alcohol use and sleep deprivation, may trigger symptoms or make them worse. Improving sleep or eliminating alcohol use in these cases may relieve symptoms.
Diagnosis of Restless Legs Syndrome
There is no medical test to diagnose RLS; however, doctors may use blood tests and other exams to rule out other conditions. The diagnosis of RLS is based on a patient’s symptoms and answers to questions concerning family history of similar symptoms, medication use, the presence of other symptoms or medical conditions, or problems with daytime sleepiness.
Treatment for Restless Legs Syndrome
Treatment for RLS is targeted at easing symptoms. In people with mild to moderate restless legs syndrome, lifestyle changes, such as beginning a regular exercise program, establishing regular sleep patterns, and eliminating or decreasing the use of caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco, may be helpful. Treatment of an RLS-associated condition also may provide relief of symptoms.
Other non-drug RLS treatments may include:
Hot baths or heating pads or ice packs applied to the legs
Good sleep habits
A vibrating pad called Relaxis
Medications may be helpful as RLS treatments, but the same drugs are not helpful for everyone. In fact, a drug that relieves symptoms in one person may worsen them in another. In other cases, a drug that works for a while may lose its effectiveness over time.
Drugs used to treat RLS include:
Dopaminergic drugs, which act on the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain. Mirapex, Neupro, and Requip are FDA-approved for the treatment of moderate to severe RLS. Others, such as levodopa, may also be prescribed.
Benzodiazepines, a class of sedative medications, may be used to help with sleep, but they can cause daytime drowsiness.
Narcotic pain relievers may be used for severe pain.
Anticonvulsants, or antiseizure drugs, such as Tegretol, Lyrica, Neurontin, and Horizant.
Although there is no cure for restless legs syndrome, current treatments can help control the condition, decrease symptoms, and improve sleep.
Narcolepsy is a chronic sleep disorder characterized by overwhelming daytime drowsiness and sudden attacks of sleep. People with narcolepsy often find it difficult to stay awake for long periods of time, regardless of the circumstances. Narcolepsy can cause serious disruptions in your daily routine.
Sometimes, narcolepsy can be accompanied by a sudden loss of muscle tone (cataplexy), which can be triggered by strong emotion. Narcolepsy that occurs with cataplexy is called type 1 narcolepsy. Narcolepsy that occurs without cataplexy is known as type 2 narcolepsy.
Narcolepsy is a chronic condition for which there's no cure. However, medications and lifestyle changes can help you manage the symptoms. Support from others — family, friends, employers, teachers — can help you cope with narcolepsy.
The signs and symptoms of narcolepsy may worsen for the first few years and then continue for life. They include:
Excessive daytime sleepiness. People with narcolepsy fall asleep without warning, anywhere, anytime. For example, you may be working or talking with friends and suddenly you nod off, sleeping for a few minutes up to a half-hour. When you awaken, you feel refreshed, but eventually you get sleepy again.
You may also experience decreased alertness and focus throughout the day. Excessive daytime sleepiness usually is the first symptom to appear and is often the most troublesome, making it difficult for you to concentrate and fully function.
Sudden loss of muscle tone. This condition, called cataplexy (KAT-uh-plek-see), can cause a number of physical changes, from slurred speech to complete weakness of most muscles, and may last up to a few minutes.
Cataplexy is uncontrollable and is triggered by intense emotions, usually positive ones such as laughter or excitement, but sometimes fear, surprise or anger. For example, when you laugh, your head may droop uncontrollably or your knees may suddenly buckle.
Some people with narcolepsy experience only one or two episodes of cataplexy a year, while others have numerous episodes daily. Not everyone with narcolepsy experiences cataplexy.
Sleep paralysis. People with narcolepsy often experience a temporary inability to move or speak while falling asleep or upon waking. These episodes are usually brief — lasting a few seconds or minutes — but can be frightening. You may be aware of the condition and have no difficulty recalling it afterward, even if you had no control over what was happening to you.
This sleep paralysis mimics the type of temporary paralysis that normally occurs during a period of sleep called rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. This temporary immobility during REM sleep may prevent your body from acting out dream activity.
Not everyone with sleep paralysis has narcolepsy, however. Many people without narcolepsy experience some episodes of sleep paralysis.
Changes in rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. REM sleep is typically when most dreaming happens. REM sleep can occur at any time of the day in people with narcolepsy. People with narcolepsy often transition quickly to REM sleep, usually within 15 minutes of falling asleep.
Hallucinations. These hallucinations are called hypnagogic hallucinations if they happen as you fall asleep and hypnopompic hallucinations if they occur upon waking. An example is feeling as if there is a stranger in your bedroom. These hallucinations may be particularly vivid and frightening because you may not be fully asleep when you begin dreaming and you experience your dreams as reality.
People with narcolepsy may have other sleep disorders, such as obstructive sleep apnea — a condition in which breathing starts and stops throughout the night — restless legs syndrome and even insomnia.
Some people with narcolepsy experience automatic behavior during brief episodes of narcolepsy. For example, you may fall asleep while performing a task you normally perform, such as writing, typing or driving, and you continue to perform that task while asleep. When you awaken, you can't remember what you did, and you probably didn't do it well.
When to see a doctor
See your doctor if you experience excessive daytime sleepiness that disrupts your personal or professional life.
The exact cause of narcolepsy is unknown. People with type 1 narcolepsy have low levels of the chemical hypocretin (hi-poe-KREE-tin). Hypocretin is an important neurochemical in your brain that helps regulate wakefulness and REM sleep.
Hypocretin levels are particularly low in those who experience cataplexy. Exactly what causes the loss of hypocretin-producing cells in the brain isn't known, but experts suspect it's due to an autoimmune reaction.
It's also likely that genetics play a role in the development of narcolepsy. But the risk of a parent passing this disorder to a child is very low — only about 1 percent.
Research also indicates a possible association with exposure to the swine flu (H1N1 flu) virus and a certain form of H1N1 vaccine that's currently administered in Europe, though it's not yet clear why.
Normal sleep pattern vs. narcolepsy
The normal process of falling asleep begins with a phase called non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. During this phase, your brain waves slow considerably. After an hour or so of NREM sleep, your brain activity changes, and REM sleep begins. Most dreaming occurs during REM sleep.
In narcolepsy, however, you may suddenly enter into REM sleep without first experiencing NREM sleep, both at night and during the day. Some of the characteristics of narcolepsy — such as cataplexy, sleep paralysis and hallucinations — are similar to changes that occur in REM sleep, but occur during wakefulness or drowsiness.
There are only a few known risk factors for narcolepsy, including:
Age. Narcolepsy typically begins in people between 10 and 30 years old.
Family history. Your risk of narcolepsy is 20 to 40 times higher if you have a family member who has narcolepsy.
Public misunderstanding of the condition. Narcolepsy may cause serious problems for you professionally and personally. Others might see you as lazy or lethargic. Your performance may suffer at school or work.
Interference with intimate relationships. Intense feelings, such as anger or joy, can trigger signs of narcolepsy such as cataplexy, causing affected people to withdraw from emotional interactions.
Physical harm. Sleep attacks may result in physical harm to people with narcolepsy. You're at increased risk of a car accident if you have an attack while driving. Your risk of cuts and burns is greater if you fall asleep while preparing food.
Obesity. People with narcolepsy are more likely to be overweight. The weight gain may be related to a low metabolism.
Almost everyone snores at times. We don't' even realise making those loud, rattling noises in our deep sleep. Other that being irritable for people sleeping next to you, snoring seems completely normal. But, it's not! If you or somebody you know snores regularly, it should concern you. Constant and loud snoring requires immediate attention. Snoring is usually caused by congested nose and throat, when they block the free passage for air that we breathe. The airway is usually open wide when we are awake and active but not so much while our mind shuts out. The disrupted and bumpy airway leads to vibration of the tissue walls, which creates the grunting sound during sleep. People with more of nasal and throat tissues are likely to snore more.
Deficient sleep poses worrying health risks like fatigue and thyroid, and sleep disorders like sleep apnea and insomnia. Obesity, excessive alcohol consumption, smoking, allergies, sinus - are some of the ruling factors that may lead to snoring. People snore for different reasons. It is imperative to spot the exact cause of the problem to treat it effectively. Whatever may be the reason, some diet adjustments will help anybody, distressed with this problem.
Here are some foods that can help you stop snoring, if eaten regularly:
Honey is a strong antimicrobic, which is often used to treat common infections like cold. Honey soothes and opens nasal pathway, allowing the air to pass through freely.
This herbal leaf is replete with antispasmodic properties that reduce swelling inside the nose and throat. Drink peppermint tea before bedtime or inhale steam of boiling water with infused peppermint leaves or essential oil.
Garlic possesses some inordinate anti-inflammatory properties. That's the reason people pop raw garlic cloves in the morning to steer clear from common infections. Some people also consume raw garlic at night to quash their habit of snoring.
4. Turmeric Milk
Turmeric is an indispensable part of our daily diet. The herb plays a great role in preventing inflammation of nasal and throat tissues. Add a teaspoon of turmeric to boiling milk and drink it warm before hitting the bed.
The high content of protein and fatty acids like omega 3 in fish combats the production of phlegm that blocks the nasal passage.
Onions are stashed with antioxidants, which fight off infection-causing bacteria, keeping the nose and throat clear of congestion.
7. Soy Milk
Soy milk should replace other kinds of dairy milk as they produce mucus and can also cause allergy to people with lactose intolerance.
This fruit is a natural decongestant and stops the nose and throat to flare up. Pineapple is also easy to digest, so can be fearlessly eaten at night after dinner.
A nice, warm cup of tea will help you relax while it will work its way to open blocked nose and throat. But make sure you don't drink too much or too strong tea at night, as the caffeine present in it may hamper your sleep.
Making some changes in your lifestyle and diet will go a long way in thwarting that bugging snoring problem for good. But, if your problem persists with severity, it is best to seek a specialist's intervention.
Getting a good night's sleep is crucial for good health. But, we all face insomnia to some degree or other. Homeopathy is a complementary system of medicine that cures almost any disease on earth, including insomnia.
Insomnia is a complex issue with a number of factors. Sometimes the fear of insomnia keeps people awake at night. Other causes are age- older people find it difficult to get sleep due to drop in levels of melatonin , a chemical that induces sleep; gender – women are more blessed with insomnia because of their hormonal fluctuations that happen on a monthly basis plus due to pregnancy and menopause; depression, high BP, seizures, heart problems, anxiety etc. Jetlag, irregular shift work can also give you insomnia.
Homeopathy treats the person as a whole. It means that homeopathic treatment focuses on the patient as a person, as well as his pathological condition. The homeopathic medicines are selected after a full individualizing examination and case-analysis, which includes the medical history of the patient, physical and mental constitution etc. The medicines given below indicate the therapeutic affinity but this is not a complete and definite guide to the treatment of this condition. The symptoms listed against each medicine may not be directly related to this disease because in homeopathy general symptoms and constitutional indications are also taken into account for selecting a remedy. It is always recommended to consult a specialized homeopath before you go for medication. None of these medicines should be taken without professional advice.
Homeopathic medicines that may help you to treat insomnia, are-
- Arsenicum Album (Ars): The anxious lot who suffer from sleeplessness will benefit from this one. Those with disturbed, restless sleep will get relief from their tossing and turning.
- Coffea Cruda (Coff): Coffee is also used to treat insomnia when given in the crude form. It relieves symptoms produced by coffee, like sleeplessness due to rapid thoughts and an active mind
- Gelsemium Sempervirens (Gels): Sleeplessness from anxiety is treated with this one . It also treats insomnia due to exhaustion.
- Ignatia Amara (Ign): Sleeplessness from a recent disappointment or grief is treated using this medicine.
- Lycopodium clavatum (Lyc): Are you feeling sleepy all day and sleepless at night from an active mind? Then this is the one for you!
- Nux Vomica (Nux-v): Irritability from loss of sleep is treated using this medicine and so is restlessness from the excessive consumption of coffee, alcohol, or drugs.
- Passiflora Incarnata (Pass): Restlessness, exhaustion, and sleeplessness, all three are treated. It’s especially useful for aged and infants.
- Phosphorus (Phos): Short naps with frequent waking are a symptom treated with this one. It’s very effective for sleeplessness in old people.
- Sulphur (Sulph): Disturbed sleep and inability to fall asleep after waking up between 2 – 5am and unable to go back to sleep- If this describes you, then try Sulph.