Do you often feel tired even after a “good night’s sleep?” You may be one of the 18 million Americans with sleep apnea, a physical disorder that affects the way our bodies breathe during sleep. Worldwide, experts say that nearly 1 billion adults suffer from sleep apnea. Of course, you should never try to diagnose yourself, but it is wise to learn about what the disorder is, what the most common symptoms are, and how chiropractic care can help.
The first step is learning the basics about sleep apnea and understanding how serious it can be. Not only does it have the potential to rob your body of healthful, rejuvenating sleep, but it can lead to even worse problems down the road if the sufferer doesn’t get help.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
In short, sleep apnea is a serious medical condition in which a person experiences brief but repeated bursts of breathing cessation. The disorder can cause all sorts of other problems related to alertness, mental acuity, and physical stamina. In most cases, sleep apnea causes the breath not only to stop for a few seconds but then to restart several seconds later.
Many people who suffer from the disorder regularly snore in their sleep and often feel completely drained of energy the next day. Researchers say there are a few different types of the sleep disorder. Most people have heard of the first one in the following list, but the other kinds are much less common:
- OSA, or obstructive sleep apnea: this variation of the disorder is prevalent among all types and is the result of the throat’s muscles experiencing a state of over-relaxation
- CSA, or central sleep apnea: the cause of this particular disorder is centered in the brain rather than the muscles. Even though the body’s muscles are in immediate control of the breathing process, when the brain is unable to convey the right signals to those respiratory muscles, the person cannot breathe in a normal, rhythmic pattern.
- Complex sleep apnea: the other name for this type of the disorder is “treatment-emergent CSA.” It’s a combination of OSA, obstructive sleep apnea, and CSA. Because this variety of sleep apnea is a combination of two others, you’ll sometimes see it referred to as TECSA, or treatment-emergent CSA.
- Other combinations: Some individuals exhibit unique forms of apnea that include one or more of the above variants.
Because all kinds of sleep apnea can be potentially dangerous and can lead to severe, long-term physical ailments like heart problems, it’s essential to seek medical help as soon as possible.
Chiropractic treatment can help alleviate symptoms of sleep apnea, which means avoiding more serious ailments and complications that come from procrastinating about seeing a medical professional.
How Chiropractic Care Can Treat Sleep Apnea
Chiropractic physicians can help sleep apnea sufferers in several ways. Every person’s medical situation is unique, but here are some of the ways that your chiropractor can treat sleep apnea if you have it:
- Spinal adjustment: Subluxations in the cervical region of the spine are associated with interrupted sleep due to breathing difficulties.
- Counseling about sleep position: Inefficient sleep position can lead directly to blocked airways. When you learn better, more sleep-friendly ways to position your body before you fall asleep, your sleep apnea has less of a chance of interfering with healthful rest patterns.
- Attending to spine health: Chiropractors know how to make your spine more stable, which has a significant impact on the quality of your sleep.
- Finding causes: The spine plays such a central role in the body’s general health that a misalignment can lead to an obstructed windpipe, disruption of the nervous system, pinched nerves, vertebral disc damage, and other factors that directly interfere with healthy sleep.
- Counseling about lifestyle changes: In addition to discussing the key role played by body position, chiropractors can help you with other lifestyle factors that contribute to sleep apnea, like being overweight, not maintaining a regular sleep schedule, putting the body under too much stress, and not paying attention to good posture.
The Typical Signs and Symptoms
If you have one, some, or all of the common sleep apnea symptoms, there’s a chance that you are suffering from the disorder. If so, be sure to seek professional medical help as soon as you can. Left untreated, sleep apnea can get much worse, and long-term lack of proper sleep can affect your overall health.
For example, has anyone ever told you that you snore? Or, do you sometimes wake up in the morning but feel as though you’ve been short-changed on sleep? These are just two very typical signs that you might have sleep apnea. However, it’s important to know that there are different kinds, and not all have such apparent signs and symptoms. Here’s a look at the many hints your body might be giving you as warning signs that you suffer from this sleep-related disorder:
- Loud snoring that continues for long periods, even if there are some short pauses.
- Gasping for air or choking after a break in a longer session of snoring
- Not knowing that you snore or gasp during the night even though someone tells you that you do
- Noticing that your throat is extremely dry or sore when you wake up in the morning (it’s from the snoring)
- Sometimes waking up in the middle of the night with a sore or dry throat and feeling like you are gasping to regain your breath
- Having many nights of restless sleep patterns
- Experiencing headache pain when you wake up or shortly afterward
- Becoming very tired, fatigued, and sleepy while driving, even if you think you had a good night’s sleep
- Periods of insomnia, or the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep
- Decreased sex drive when there appear to be no other causes
- Noticeable changes or drastic swings in your mood
- Measurable amounts of forgetfulness that are not normal for you
- Unexpected weight gain that is out of the ordinary for you
- The feeling that you always have a sore throat even if you don’t have a virus or the flu
- The inability to concentrate on your job or conversations
- Learning problems or trouble with your memory that seems out of the ordinary
- Others pointing out that your personality seems to have changed
- Becoming depressed
- Routinely feeling irritable for days at a time
Don’t Lose Any More Sleep
If you think you might have sleep apnea, visit Delaware Integrative Medicine and find out what chiropractic care can do for you. There’s never a charge for an initial consultation, and you’ll get the peace of mind that comes with knowing what the state of your health is. If you do have sleep apnea and want to book an appointment for a full medical examination and treatment session, you’ll be able to do so after your consultation.
At Delaware Integrative Medicine, we believe in treating the whole person. Our chiropractic physicians work to understand the root causes of sleep apnea so that they can do much more than treat symptoms. Feel free to phone us or stop by our offices anytime to schedule an initial consultation. We welcome new and repeat clients and always look forward to helping you achieve your best state of health..