Posted on Jun 04, 2020, 4 p.m.
Excessive daytime sleepiness due to obstructive sleep apnea is not the same as just being tired; common signs of EDS due to OSA include brain fog, unrefreshing sleep, and falling asleep when you are supposed to be awake.
In American an estimated 18 million people have obstructive sleep apnea, and excessive daytime sleepiness due to OSA is a real medical condition that makes it very hard to stay awake and alert during the day.
OSA occurs when the upper airway narrows or is blocked during sleep which creates a cycle of abnormal breathing and sleep interruption. According to research this cycle may harm the parts of the brain that control whether you feel awake or sleepy. This pattern/cycle can repeat itself all night long, and the disruptions can impair the ability to achieve restful phases of sleep. Those with OSA may not even be aware that they have the condition at all.
Anyone can develop OSA, however certain factors can put you at an increased risk such as being overweight, having narrowed airways, high blood pressure, chronic nasal congestion, smoking, diabetes, gender, menopause, family history, and asthma.
OSA is not just a night time sleep disorder as its impacts may be felt during the day. CPAP( Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) and other airway therapy is important to treating the airway for obstructions, but even this may not completely relieve the symptoms of EDS. One study has shown that 1 in 3 people with OSA who are compliant with their CPAP air therapy still experience excessive daytime sleepiness.
Milder causes of obstructive sleep apnea may be treated with lifestyle changes, if these measures don’t work your physician may recommend other approaches. Another option for OSA is a mouthpiece that is used to thrust the lower jaw forward during sleep, and in some cases surgery may also be an option. There are also prescription medications that can be used to help improve the state of wakefulness in adults who are experiencing EDS due to narcolepsy or OSA. However, these medications do not treat the underlying cause of OSA and should not take the place of any device that may have been prescribed for the condition such as an CPAP machine, it is important to continue the use of the treatments as they were prescribed by your healthcare professional.
OSA is a potentially serious sleeping disorder that can cause breathing to repeatedly stop and start during sleep. There are several types of sleep apnea, of which the most common is OSA, snoring is a noticeable sign of this condition. Signs and symptoms of OSA include:
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Loud snoring
- Observed episode of stopped breathing during sleep
- Abrupt awakenings accompanied by choking or gasping
- Morning headaches
- Awaking with a dry mouth or sore throat
- Difficulty concentrating during the day
- High blood pressure
- Nighttime sweating
- Decreased libido
- Mood changes such as depression or irritability
You should consult professional medical assistance if you experience or if your partner observes the following:
- You snore loud enough to disturb the sleep of yourself or others
- You wake up choking or gasping
- You experience intermittent pauses in breathing during sleep
- You experience excessive daytime drowsiness which may cause you to fall asleep while at work, watching TV, or driving
Not many think of snoring as a sign of there being something potentially wrong or serious, but it can be, however, not everyone who snores has OSA. Be sure to consult with your physician or certified medical professional if you experience loud snoring that is punctuated by periods of silence. Snoring is typically loudest when sleeping on your back and quiets when your turn on your side with OSA.
It is best to consult with your physician or certified medical professional about any sleep problem that leaves you feeling chronically fatigued, sleepy and irritable. Some of these issues such as excessive daytime drowsiness could even be due to other disorders such as narcolepsy and are worth getting checked out.
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This article is not intended to provide medical diagnosis, advice, treatment, or endorsement.