Does Dad “saw logs” all night?
If your loved one snores, this may be a
sign of “sleep apnea.”
All snoring jokes aside, sleep apnea is a serious condition that
deprives the brain of oxygen. A person with sleep apnea goes without oxygen for
at least 10 seconds, five to 30 (or more) times an hour. It happens because the
soft tissues of his or her airways collapse and stick together, blocking
What should be restful sleep time is instead mini-suffocations and
a nightlong struggle to breathe.
Sleep apnea is more common in men than in women. Aging is a big
risk factor. So is nighttime alcohol consumption. Both cause the soft tissue of
the airways to lose tone and collapse. Obesity, smoking, and allergies are also
contributors (all three narrow the airways).
Sleep apnea has multiple potential consequences.
- Type 2 diabetes. The
chronic nightly jolts to the nervous system affect the body’s blood sugar
- High blood pressure. Sleep
apnea is estimated to be a factor in 38,000 deaths from heart-related problems
each year. The risk of heart disease increases by 30% and risk of stroke by
- Earlier onset of dementia. Those
with sleep apnea appear to develop dementia as many as 10 years earlier than
their full-breathing peers.
- Depression, foggy thinking, and irritability. Quality
of life definitely goes down when you don’t get a good night’s sleep.
- Car accidents. Daytime
fatigue seems to result in a 2.5 greater risk of falling asleep at the wheel.
Just because sleep apnea is more common
in men does not mean that Mom is immune.
If either parent snores, wakes up with headaches or a dry mouth,
complains of daytime fatigue, or has trouble with fuzzy thinking or
irritability, talk to the doctor about a sleep apnea test. There are more than
a few logs at stake.
Concerned about a loved one’s snoring?
At Debra Levy Eldercare Associates we know that snoring is a condition all too often dismissed. As the Metro DC experts in family caregiving, we can help you make the case and encourage testing and treatment. Give us a call at 301-593-5285.