If you suffer from daytime sleepiness and you snore at night, then it's possible you might suffer from Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) a serious medical condition. OSA is the term used when a person stops breathing whilst asleep due to a relaxation of the muscles in their neck, which in turn closes the airway. These breathing interruptions, known as 'sleep apnoea', reduce oxygen levels in the blood. During sleep the brain reacts quickly and releases adrenalin which causes a partial wakening. This cycle can occur many times per hour during sleep without the person realizing and lead to daytime tiredness.
Many sufferers have excessive daytime sleepiness, which is bad enough in itself but often they are unable to concentrate, experience marital disharmony and they fall asleep at times when they don't want to be asleep. Obstructive Sleep Apnoea makes them at least twice as likely to have a motor accident if they are driving. However, this is not the worst news. Research has demonstrated that the repeated falls in oxygen levels in the blood caused by OSA are linked to the development of high blood pressure, heart disease, strokes and diabetes.
The reality is that untreated OSA is a killer and needs to be taken seriously and there are many snorers who simply don't even know how serious their condition might be. The only way to diagnose OSA is to have a sleep study which can be undertaken at home. The role of Mandibular Advancement Splints (MAS) to treat snoring is widely recognized (SIGN guidelines, 2003). SleepwellTM has been independently and rigorously tested both in terms of its clinical effectiveness and patient acceptability (Barnes et al., 2004 Am J Crit Care Med) to treat sufferers of snoring and mild / moderate Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA).
If, you suffer from day time sleepiness, experience stress due to fatigue or are aware that you stop breathing during sleep then consider a sleep study within the your own home.
By Matthew Hinckley
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