Sleep Apnea: The Hidden Costs of Insufficient Sleep

Sleep Apnea

Do you toss and turn throughout the night? Is your snoring keeping your significant other awake? Are you struggling to fight through your fatigue during the day? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be one of the estimated 18 million people living with a sleep apnea.

Though it is one of the most common chronic sleep disorders, the overwhelming majority of sleep apnea cases have not yet been identified. Beyond excessive sleepiness, undiagnosed and untreated sleep apnea can lead to a number of hidden costs that affect both your health and well-being.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that occurs when a person involuntarily develops a pattern of stopping and starting to breathe throughout the night. There are three types of sleep apnea: obstructive (when the soft tissues in the back of the throat relax and block the airway), central (when the brain fails to signal muscles to control breathing) and mixed (a combination of obstructive and central sleep apnea).

Of the three, obstructive sleep apnea is the most common and serious, causing untreated patients to have interrupted or shallow breathing that lasts between 10 to 20 seconds up to hundreds of times per night. Because symptoms occur during the night, when a person is asleep, most people are unaware of their symptoms. If you notice the following sleep apnea symptoms in you or your partner’s sleep, please talk to your primary care physician:

  • Loud snoring followed by pauses or gasps
  • Morning headaches and daytime fatigue
  • Difficulty breathing while sleeping
  • Dry mouth or sore throat upon waking up
  • Frequent urination throughout the night

The Risks of Sleep Apnea

If you think you may suffer from chronic sleep deprivation caused by sleep apnea, letting the condition go undiagnosed may be costing you more than just a good night’s sleep. Leaving your sleep apnea untreated can lead to a number of negative, long-term side effects.

Sleep Apnea Affects Your Quality of Life

In addition to the symptoms, people living with sleep apnea oftentimes report having poorer quality of life as a result of insufficient sleep and constant tiredness. Common side effects of sleep deprivation include irritability, hyperactivity, depression, impatience, mood swings, low self-confidence, low tolerance for frustration and other impulse control problems.

Sleep Apnea Affects Your Performance

Feeling tired throughout the day can interfere with your ability to engage in daily activities as well as your ability to perform in work, school and other environments. Sleep apnea is known to cause academic underachievement in children and teens, poor work performance in adults and problems with learning and memory consolidation across the board.

Sleep Apnea Affects Your Safety

One of the most common safety risks of sleep apnea is increased drowsiness behind the wheel. Raw data shows that people with sleep apnea are up to five times more likely to be involved in traffic accidents than normal sleepers due to sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation may also increase the chances of getting injured on the job. Fatal workplace accidents are twice as common in those who have poor sleeping patterns.

Sleep Apnea Affects Your Health

Sleep apnea has been linked to a number of other chronic health conditions – some of which are considered life-threatening diagnoses. If you have sleep apnea, you may be at higher risk for developing conditions such as high blood pressure, stroke, heart failure, irregular heartbeats, heart attack, diabetes, depression, worsened ADHD, weight gain and acid reflux.

Sleep Apnea Affects Your Wallet

Untreated sleep apnea is thought to cost the United States over $3 billion in additional medical costs each year. Studies show that people with undiagnosed or untreated sleep disorders utilize the healthcare system more frequently than those without sleep disorders to manage and treat subsequent symptoms of sleep deprivation over the course of a lifetime.

Sleep Apnea can be Managed. Let Us Help You!

The increased risks linked with sleep apnea can be frightening, but the good news is, effective treatment for sleep apnea is available – and it’s closer than you may think. To learn how sleep apnea home care services and home medical equipment from UnityPoint at Home can help treat and manage your symptoms for a better night’s sleep, please contact us online today.

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