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Are you guilty of snoring every night? Not only can your loud noises be bad for your sleep partner, but it could be a sign of a bigger problem. Sleep apnea could be the underlying cause of a constant bad night's sleep.
Kaiser Permanente sleep specialist, Dr. Walter Conwell says, “the most common issue related to sleep apnea is daytime sleepiness and issues with memory concentration.” But, in worse cases it can cause heart attacks and that is why Dr. Conwell suggests you take action.
Obstructive sleep apnea is a serious disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops for 10 seconds or more during sleep. When your tongue becomes heavy and relaxed it can collapse onto your airwaves, blocking the flow of oxygen.
Dr. Conwell says, “for others it can be rolling onto their backs when they sleep and gravity can pull the tongue to the back of the throat or for others it’s getting older.” There are many reasons for sleep apnea, but how do you know you have it?
Dr. Conwell suggests the STOP BANG questionnaire. It's a free at home test for patients to assess if they have sleep apnea symptoms.
The questionnaire asks you and your bed partner to answer these questions. If you answer yes to three or more, there’s a strong possibility you could be suffering from sleep apnea.
S-do you SNORE
T-do you feel TIRED
O-has anyone OBSERVED you stop breathing
P-do you have high blood PRESSURE
B-is your BODY MASS index high
A-AGE older than 50
N-NECK size large
Dr. Conwell also suggests downloading apps to monitor your sleep. There are apps like Sleep Apnea Monitor which tracks your movement and Sleep Tracker which monitors your breathing patterns.
He says, “now just keep in mind those are just screening tools and that should then prompt you to talk to one of your physicians so they can determine whether a true sleep study is necessary."
If it is, instead of spending thousands of dollars for an in-hospital sleep study, Dr. Conwell says a new device has made a sleep study more cost affordable. It looks just like a smartwatch.