I’m always tired. Do I have Sleep Apnea?

Before Your Visit with the Doctor

In last week’s blog post, we took a look at the steps that happen after your visit with the doctor. But, what about before that initial visit? How do you know if you need to go to the doctor in the first place? If you are always incredibly tired during your normal daily routine, that struggle might be a red flag that you’re unknowingly struggling with Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). How can you be receiving a solid seven and a half to eight hours, seemingly uninterrupted, yet still be exhausted during the next day?

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The Nitty Gritty

Here is what might be happening: after you’re asleep, the muscles that hold strong and maintain the air passageway behind the soft palate and the tongue soften. If the air passageway is of normal, healthy size, the softening creates no problems, and is a normal, healthy occurrence in all human adults. Alternatively, if the passageway is smaller, it can collapse. Small passageways are often artificially created by obesity since there is too much weight bearing down on the neck. Other times, genetics play a role, as Obstructive Sleep Apnea might be a predominant trait in your family.

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The Subtle Damage

You will continue to try to breath against the closed air passageway. It will become increasingly vigorous as blood oxygen levels drop and carbon dioxide levels increase, which is your body’s response to the alarming occurrence at hand. The arduous effort to breathe causes you to eventually awaken, which flexes the muscles behind the tongue. Because the waking period is brief, you return to sleep immediately, and are unaware that anything out of the ordinary took place. If this “hiccup” happens again and again during the night, sleep becomes disjointed and choppy, and you experience the daytime sleepiness that you know all too well.

Final Thoughts

Of course, the above outline is not an exhaustive resource, but hopefully you now have a better understanding of what exactly happens to cause your daytime tiredness. At this point, if this sounds like something you might be struggling with, you may want to see a doctor to determine the beneficial next steps on the road to wakefulness.

Is your Nightly Workout Affecting your Sleep?

Many people don’t like having to wake up earlier than they need to.  Between work, kids, and all of your other activities it can be difficult to fit in a good workout, which causes many people to have to squeeze one in before going to sleep.  Though it’s true that exercising during the day can help tire you out and allow rest to come more easily, it has often been thought that exercise before bed may make falling asleep more difficult.

Exercise has a number of effects on the body that alter your temporary chemistry and activity level.  Increases in certain hormones, blood circulation, and muscle use are all factors that are good for you in the long run and provide helpful benefits.  The increased heart rate and body temperature were once thought to cause too much excitement to allow sleep shortly after, but luckily a new study has helped to answer this age-old question.

It turns out that for most people, exercising late at night has little to no effect on their ability to fall asleep.  In fact, most studies show that any physical activity, no matter what time, actually helps you fall asleep more quickly and stay more soundly asleep since you’ve tired yourself out.  Some people, however, are more affected by the physical excitement that comes with exercise.  If you find you are someone who has a more difficult time falling asleep after exercise you may want to ensure it’s a few hours before your usual bedtime.  Exercise to help stay more soundly asleep is a great way to ensure wakefulness during the day.

Final Thoughts

Of course, the above outline is not an exhaustive resource, but hopefully you now have a better idea of how to stay as rested as possible. If you have individual concerns, it is best to speak with your doctor to determine what is best for your individual needs.

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