by S. Brent Ridge, M.D.
No, I'm not talking about the thoughts that have raced through your bed partner's mind! I'm talking about Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA).
For most people, snoring is just an annoyance, but for sufferers of sleep apnea, snoring can be a significant alarm system.
People with sleep apnea have short periods during sleep where they stop breathing. These periods last anywhere from 10 seconds to 40 seconds and can occur as many as 400 times per night. If you do the math, this means that the average person with sleep apnea spends more than three hours a night not breathing normally or not breathing at all. That can't be healthy.
Symptoms of sleep apnea include:
Choking sounds during sleep
Falling asleep during the day
Trouble with memory and attention
Impotency in men and menstrual irregularities in women
Dry mouth in the morning
(I recognize some of these symptoms in Chris & Jaymes, obviously it runs in the family. Jaymes has already taken the Apnea test & is being treated by Dr Jenny Tang of KKH. Although I have informed Jaymes' school about his condition, his teachers & even the principal are still picking on him for falling asleep in class. I hope all of them get OSA so they can understand what Jaymes is going through. Cold-blooded a******s!)
Persons with sleep apnea have a higher death rate than the average person, are five times more likely to be in a fatigue-related car accident, are 10 times more likely to have a stroke, and have high rates of hypertension and cardiac arrhythmias.
Snoring is one of those things that we don't tend to pay a lot of attention to. In fact, many people don't even bring it up when they talk to their doctor. An overnight sleep study is necessary to document sleep apnea, but, trust me - everyone will rest easier if the condition is treated properly.
Perhaps this is one item you should add to your new year's resolution list. Do any of you know anyone with sleep apnea? Or do you suffer from it yourself? If so, share your experiences.