Most of us just long for the comfort of our bed and get a good night’s sleep after a long day at work or school. Our tired bodies need to recuperate so it has the energy it needs to face another day because you just can’t get away from the daily grind. It’s the reality of life. There are people, though, who don’t get to enjoy the luxury of sleep that most individuals look forward to at the end of the day. It really is such an irony that they end up sleepy the entire day but unable to fall into deep sleep at night even though sleep is all they can ever think of. It is not that they don’t like sleeping, it’s just that they can’t. It may be hard to believe but it is true and millions suffer from sleep deprivation because of it. What’s the contributing factor then?
You may have heard of sleep apnea by now and most likely associate it with snoring. Well, it is true that most patients diagnosed with sleep apnea snores but it is also worth noting that not all snorers have sleep apnea. What many tend to overlook is how sleep apnea contributes to sleep deprivation. Sure, the snoring itself is a major distraction to sleeping and most patients have a hard time breathing that leads to short shallow sleep. Now, think of the dangers if you constantly lose sleep. You may be more prone to accidents such as road and occupation hazards for people who drive or operate pieces of machinery in their daily life. However, you can’t just ignore the figures and countless accidents caused by drivers sleeping on the road as is the case of most people suffering from chronic sleep deprivation.
Excessive sleepiness can cause cognitive impairments and put individuals at a higher risk of motor vehicle crash. However, the perception of impairment from excessive sleepiness quickly plateaus in individuals who are chronically sleep deprived, despite continued declines in performance. Individuals may thus be unaware of their degree of impairment from sleep deficiency, which raises the question of whether these individuals are at an increased risk of motor vehicle crash. A team of researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital addressed this question and their results are published in BMC Medicine.
Sleep apnea should not be taken lightly. You should not be reminded over and over again especially that a big chunk of the population suffers from whether they know it or not and it seriously impacting their lives. The moment you lose sleep, there is a part of you that is not in its perfect shape. Your cognition is mostly affected as you tend to lose focus more and feel lost at times because of excessive sleepiness. Many people unknowingly suffer from it because they tend to shrug off the symptoms thinking that you just have to bear with symptoms like snowing or the continuous breathing gaps in your sleep when help is available as long as you seek for it. While the cure is still elusive, there are still things you can do or medications you can take to offer you relief from your symptoms and thereby allow you to sleep better at night.
Researchers found that “[s]evere sleep apnea was associated with a 123% increased crash risk, compared to no sleep apnea,” and that “[s]leeping 6 hours per night was associated with a 33% increased crash risk, compared to sleeping 7 or 8 hours per night,” read the study, which was published online in the journal BMC Medicine.
“We found that chronically sleep-deprived individuals don’t perceive themselves as being excessively sleepy and thus don’t perceive themselves as impaired,” said lead author Daniel Gottlieb, MD, MPH, associate physician in the Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders, in a statement released by BWH. “This resulted in an increased risk of motor vehicle crashes in sleep-deprived individuals.”
Sleep apnea is often a problem associated with your anatomy so there is little you can do about that unless you opt to undergo an invasive surgery, which has its added risks. But if surgery is not an option for you, do not lose hope yet because there are little things you can do to change your situation. Sometimes, your lifestyle also contributes to the worsening of sleep apnea symptoms and changing a few of your not-so-good habits can go a long way in helping you get your lost sleep back. It would also make more sense to avoid long drives or having to operate heavy machinery when you have trouble sleeping because you might end up in the emergency room with just one wrong move. Talk to your doctor now and find out what else you can do to sleep like a baby at night despite your sleep disorder.