Obstructive Sleep Apnea
The SleepGP Coolangatta is a long-established sleep apnoea clinic on the Gold Coast that is committed to the diagnosis and treatment of Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) which can severely disrupt the sleep patterns of sufferers.
Just like a balanced diet, and regular exercise, a good night’s sleep is vital to our health so our bodies are able to ‘repair themselves’ so we function to our full potential and enjoy life. A lack of sleep can cause serious health problems, and affect relationships, memory, and energy levels – even safety at work when fatigue sets in.
Untreated OSA is a risk factor for hypertension, stroke and cardiac events, and is associated with increased mortality. Recent studies indicate that majority of people with type 2 diabetes also have OSA. Just as you seek treatment for chronic diseases and conditions like Type 2 diabetes, hypertension and obesity from your GP, OSA diagnosis and treatment is now available from the specially trained GPs in The SleepGP network.
What is OSA?
OSA causes people to stop breathing during sleep. This occurs when there is a complete or partial blocking of the airway due to relaxation of the airway muscles and tongue. These episodes can occur up to hundreds of times per night and a severe OSA sufferer can stop breathing for a minute or more at a time – something that if you tried to do while awake most people would struggle to do. Not breathing for that long, and that often, drastically reduces the oxygen available to the brain and other organs, which could be very dangerous and life threatening if left untreated.
Signs and Symptoms of OSA
The most common symptom on OSA is snoring. Snoring occurs when the muscles of the airway relax too much during sleep and vibrate as we breathe, creating noise. The majority of people will snore at some point in their life, however chronic and loud snoring doesn’t just disturb quality of sleep, but is often associated with other sleep-related breathing disorders such as OSA. For that reason you should NEVER IGNORE A SNORE.
Sleep Apnoea can result in a range symptoms and outcomes, including:
- Someone witnessing you gasp or choke during sleep
- Waking unrefreshed
- A restless sleep
- Poor concentration
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Depression and/or anxiety
- Sexual Dysfunction
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Job related accidents
- Separate sleeping arrangements
- Relationship breakdown
- Disgruntled travelling companions
Everyday activities, and quality of life, are likely to be far less enjoyable because of feelings of tiredness or being unrefreshed.
Who is at risk?
OSA doesn’t discriminate- sufferers come from all walks of life. Men, women and children of all ages are at risk; however, it is more common with middle aged and older people. While it is more common in men than women, the risk becomes similar after menopause.
- 1.5 million Australians have sleep disorders and 80% are undiagnosed
- 83% of people medicated for high blood pressure also have OSA
- Almost 70% of stroke victims have OSA
- 58% of Type 2 Diabetes sufferers have OSA
- 77% of obese people have OSA
- An OSA sufferer is 7 times more likely to have a car accident
Managing OSA, and sleep hygiene are important
There are some simple lifestyle changes and good sleep hygiene habits that can reduce your risk of developing OSA: (It is important before simply undertaking any of the following, that you receive a health check and comprehensive lifestyle review with The SleepGP to scientifically and clinically evaluate what is best for you, and to measure and record change.)
- Overweight people are more at risk due to the extra tissue blocking the flow of air to the lungs. Even a small amount of weight loss can open your throat and improve your breathing
- Smoking may contribute to OSA by increasing inflammation and fluid retention in your throat – reducing or stopping altogether can be a big help.
- Avoiding alcohol, particularly before bed will assist breathing as it relaxes the muscles in the throat and interferes with breathing
- Regular exercise can have a major effect on the quality of your sleep. Exercise like yoga may be good for strengthening muscles in your airways
- You can develop your own rituals of things to remind your body that it is time to sleep – some people find it useful to do relaxing stretches or breathing exercises for 15 minutes before bed each night, or to sit calmly with a cup of caffeine-free tea.
- Having a hot bath 1-2 hours before bedtime can be useful, as it will raise your body temperature, causing you to feel sleepy as your body temperature drops again. Research shows that sleepiness is associated with a drop in body temperature.
- Many people who struggle with sleep tend to watch the clock too much. Frequently checking the clock during the night can wake you up (especially if you turn on the light to read the time) and reinforces negative thoughts such as “Oh no, look how late it is, I’ll never get to sleep” or “it’s so early, I have only slept for 5 hours, this is terrible. ”
- Regular exercise is a good idea to help with quality sleep, but try not to do strenuous exercise in the 4 hours before bedtime. Morning walks are a great way to start the day feeling refreshed!
- A healthy, balanced diet will help you to sleep well, but timing is important. Some people find that a very empty stomach at bedtime is distracting, so it can be useful to have a light snack -BUT a heavy meal soon before bed can also interrupt sleep. Some people recommend a warm glass of milk, which contains tryptophan, which acts as a natural sleep inducer.
- It is very important that your bed and bedroom are quiet and comfortable for sleeping. A cooler room with enough blankets to stay warm is best, and make sure you have curtains or an eye mask to block out early morning light and earplugs if there is noise outside your room.
- Even if you have a bad night sleep and are tired it is important that you try to keep your daytime activities the same as you had planned. That is, don’t avoid activities because you feel tired. This can reinforce the insomnia.
With 15 years of learning and understanding behind us, The SleepGP takes an active and diagnostic role in the treatment and ongoing management of OSA by putting GPs who are specially trained in sleep medicine at the centre of their patient’s care.
Say goodbye to lengthy waiting lists, admission fees and hospital beds because we offer sleep studies in the convenience and comfort of your own home, rather than overnight in hospital / in lab sleep studies.
The SleepGP recognises that every patient is different and a one-size-fits-all approach won’t fix every sleep issue. We tailor solutions for every individual based on a careful examination of each patient’s sleep problem,
The SleepGP delivers lasting results that can provide dramatic improvements to patients’ quality of sleep and in turn, their quality of life.