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What’s The Difference Between Sleep Apnea And Insomnia

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Youre A Noisy Sleeper

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Snoring, snorting or gasping: Noisy sleep is a warning sign that your upperairway might be obstructed. Not all snorers have apnea, but the two oftengo hand-in-hand. As snoring gets louder, chances of havingsleep apnea are greater and greater.If you have apnea, your bed partner might notice that the snores arepunctuated by pauses in breathing. Those are apnea episodes, and they canrecur hundreds of times a night.

What Causes Sleep Apnea

When it comes to digging behind the problematic roots of sleep apnea, it is a condition that is entirely caused by physical factors. Sleep apnea happens when a part of the soft palate collapses when youre sleeping, which blocks the airflow.

The narrow airway is often a result of excess tissue, enlarged tonsils, or a large uvula, which is often the case for obstructive sleep apnea. The main cause of obstructive sleep apnea is obesity. Central sleep apnea, on the other hand, occurs when the brain fails to control the muscles in your air passage, which leads to disrupted airflow.

Complex Sleep Apnea Syndrome Is A Combination Of Osa And Central Sleep Apnea

Doctors have recently identified a third type of sleep apnea called complex sleep apnea, which is a combination of obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea. Patients with this type of sleep apnea may at first seem to have obstructive sleep apnea, but unlike typical patients with obstructive sleep apnea, these patients symptoms are not fully addressed with the use of CPAP.

In patients with complex sleep apnea syndrome, breathing problems persist even after the airway obstruction is addressed and treated, which means something besides the collapsing throat muscles are also contributing to the apnea.

The problem is that there is still a lot of debate among sleep medicine specialists about whatexactly is going on in complex sleep apnea, or what the key characteristics that define it are.

In a study published in March 2014 in the journal Sleep Medicine Clinics, doctors conducted a review of 223 patients referred to the Mayo Clinic Sleep Disorders Center over one month, as well as 20 patients diagnosed with central sleep apnea. 00122-7/abstract” rel=”nofollow”> 11) They found that 15 percent of all sleep apnea patients had complex sleep apnea. As many as 84 percent were found to have obstructive sleep apnea, and 0.4 percent had central sleep apnea.

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Early Morning Awakening Insomnia

Early morning awakening insomnia involves waking up well before a person wants or plans to in the morning. Some experts view this as a component of sleep maintenance while others consider it separately.

Inability to get their desired amount of sleep can impair a persons physical and mental function the next day.

Whats The Difference Between Sleep Apnea And Insomnia

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The main difference is cause. While there are three different types of sleep apnea, the most common one is OSA. OSA is typically caused by a physical condition that causes airflow blockage. That blockage may cause someone to have trouble breathing normally while sleeping, and then their nervous system will wake them up so they can take a breath. If someone who is already prone to anxiety, stress, and depression experiences this, its likely theyll have trouble falling back asleep for the night which could create an insomnia event.

Insomnia can be caused by hormonal or mental conditions, such as depression, stress, anxiety, and menopause. Substances like nicotine, caffeine, excessive alcohol, drug abuse, and over-the-counter drugs can also cause insomnia.

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When Rest Isnt Enough

Resting is not a bad thing for your body. Taking a short break after mental or physical activity to rest without sleeping does seem to carry significant benefits, including some improvements to cognitive functioning. Rest isnt enough on its own, however, to get the benefits sleep brings.

There are several reasons for this. For one, rest periods rarely last as long as sleep. While most people sleep 7 or 8 hours a night, the average period of resting wakefulness runs from a few minutes to an hour or two. Another reason you need sleep, no matter how much rest you get during the day, is the deep state of torpor sleep, which is highly productive for mental regeneration. Laying down new pathways in the brain may still happen during rest. Still, the long cycle of REM sleep seems to allow for more complex mental regeneration than an afternoon catnap.

What Are The Types Of Sleep Apnea

There are three types of sleep apnea:

  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea : OSA occurs when the airway at the back of the throat becomes physically blocked. That obstruction causes temporary lapses in breath.
  • Central Sleep Apnea : CSA happens because there is a problem with the brains system for controlling muscles involved in respiration, leading to slower and shallower breathing.
  • Mixed Sleep Apnea: When a person has both OSA and CSA at the same time, it is referred to as mixed sleep apnea or complex sleep apnea.

Because the underlying causes are distinct, there are important differences in the symptoms, causes, and treatments of OSA and CSA.

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What Are Some Causes Of Sleep Apnea

OSA does not typically have a single cause and rather results from a combination of genetic, health and lifestyle factors. Often, OSA can appear on its own and without any signs or symptoms. Genes are thought to influence the development of OSA by affecting the function of nerve cells, breathing regulation, immune system inflammatory response, sleep cycle and appetite. They can also affect the development of tissues in the head and face so that some people have larger tonsils or adenoids that might obstruct the upper air passages.

Research has also that 60-70% of individuals with OSA are also obese, indicating that obesity is a main cause. Studies argue that excess fatty tissue in the head and neck constricts airways and that visceral fat can prevent the respiratory system from fully expanding and relaxing.

What Are The Signs Of Sleep Apnea

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This brief disruption causes the brain to wake enough to resume breathing, though it doesnt necessarily jolt the sleeper awake in some cases. Instead, repeated suffications with low oxygen, morning headaches, dry mouth when waking up, and plenty of trips going to the bathroom in between your sleeping hours. The recurrent brain arousals leave the person exhausted in the morning from poor sleep quality.

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What Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea

There are different types of sleep apnea, including central sleep apnea, and obstructive sleep apnea is the most common. It is a common and serious sleep disorder that causes you to stop breathing during sleep. If you have sleep apnea, your airway becomes blocked repeatedly during sleep. The amount of air reaching your lungs is limited. When this happens, you may snore loudly or make choking noises. Your brain and body become oxygen deprived and you may wake up. This may happen a few times a night, or in more severe cases, several hundred times a night.

In many cases, an apnea, or a short pause in breathing, is caused by the tissue in the back of the throat collapsing. The muscles of the upper airway relax when you fall asleep. If you sleep on your back, gravity can cause the tongue to fall back. This narrows the airway, which reduces the amount of air that can reach your lungs. The narrowed airway causes snoring by making the tissue in the back of the throat vibrate as you breathe.

If you feel tired or unrefreshed after waking up even though you have had a full night of sleep, it may be due to sleep apnea. During the day, you may feel fatigued, have difficulty concentrating or may even unintentionally fall asleep. This is because your body is waking up numerous times during the night, even though you might not be conscious of each awakening.

The lack of oxygen your body receives can have a negative impact on your health. This includes:

Why Does Sleep Matter

Most people know that healthy adults need seven or more hours of sleep a night. However, the amount of sleep needed changes with age. School-age children, for example, generally need 9 or 10 hours of sleep a night, while younger children may need 11 hours a day or more. While the exact amount of sleep you need varies from person to person, getting a whole night of sleep is one of the most important things you can do to keep healthy.

The health benefits of sleep have been studied for decades. Getting enough sleep affects your health across the board and influences everything from your mood and temper to your immunity and ability to maintain a healthy weight. People who dont get the sleep they need tend to be irritable, have trouble making clear decisions during the day, and frequently report feeling more stressed and unhappy than people who get all the sleep they need. Sleeping well may even reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and other potentially serious medical conditions.

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Can Sleep Apnea Secondary To Insomnia Occur

The short answer is yes: sleep apnea secondary to insomnia can and does occur regularly. Sleep apnea and insomnia are both classified as one of the more than 80 sleep disorders. Research indicates that sleep disorders are often comorbid that is, they occur in conjunction with one another.

A study in 2018 found startling results on the significant connection not only between sleep apnea and insomnia but the effect of both on a persons health. This study found that nearly 30% of patients with obstructive sleep apnea suffered from insomnia, with women experiencing it more frequently than men. Patients with both OSA and insomnia also had nearly triple the rate of heart disease than did the group with no insomnia.

Other reviews of literature and studies note that these two conditions are often frequently worse together than they are separately. These two conditions feed each other, and both in turn and increase daily impairment.

Insomnia used to be considered a secondary condition to another disease or disorder but now has its own designation. This shift in how we recognize insomnia has also colored the way we diagnose sleep apnea in relation to it.

One study found that as many as 69% of people with insomnia also suffer from some degree of sleep apnea. And if you think this number is high, consider the observation by researchers that this 69% is probably a low estimate.

Sleep Apnea Snoring And Heart Related Diseases

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Snoring can be an annoying disturbance to your sleep, but it could have greater consequences than interrupting you or your partners sleep. Researchers have identified a link between snoring and heart related diseases, estimating that untreated obstructive sleep apnea may increase risk heart disease mortality by up to five times.

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Whats Really At Stake When You Skimp On Sleep

You may think sleep is a waste of time but theres good reason to look at differently.

Do we think drinking and eating is a waste of time?

Or breathing?

Of course, we dont you cant live without them as theyre essential for life.

Sleep is just as essential even though its easy to take it for granted. During deep restful sleep, the body recovers, heals, and replenishes itself.

Did you know its important for memory and learning too?

Unfortunately, the full cost of poor sleep is not always immediately obvious.

Sleep deprived people dont think as clearly, have a harder time coping, and dont perform as well at school or on the job.

Relationships and intimacy can suffer.

Would you believe studies have found that when youre sleep-deprived what it does to your brain is the same as being drunk?

And chronic sleep loss puts you at risk for all sorts of issues diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, obesity related illnesses, a weakened immune system, anxiety, and depression.

Thats a whole lot at stake.

It should be clear you really need your sleep.

Without it youre just not at your best.

Were not wired to operate without sleep.

Even Elon Musk eventually admitted that sleeping less than six hours a night made things worse instead of better. It also likely led to some embarrassing exchanges on Twitter.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea Is The Most Common Subtype Of The Condition

The most common type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea, sometimes referred to as OSA. With OSA, the throat muscles in the back of your throat, which naturally become more relaxed during sleep, collapse too much to allow for normal breathing.

The throat muscles support the soft tissues in the back of the throat such as the soft palate, the uvula, the tonsils, and tongue so when those muscles collapse too much, those tissues can fall back into the throat, partially or completely blocking the normal flow of air in your airway. When the airway is blocked partially the person may start to snore, which is why this symptom is common in OSA.

When your brain senses that you arent getting enough oxygen, it signals your body to wake up enough so that you can reopen your airway, and you may gasp for air during the night. Simply put, having obstructive sleep apnea means that not enough air can get into lungs at night, and your brain wakes you up to breathe, says Robson Capasso, MD, chief of sleep surgery and associate professor of otolaryngology and head and neck surgery at Stanford University School of Medicine in California.

Doctors diagnose OSA using a sleep test that measures your body and brain activity during sleep, which is conducted either at home or at a sleep lab.

Your doctor may also advise you to lose weight and to avoid sleeping on your back, to prevent gravity from further pushing your tongue, tonsils, and other soft tissues in your throat into your airway.

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Your Sleepiness May Be Insomnia And Vice

Not being able to sleep is a normal condition under certain circumstances. Its natural for nerves to get the better of you. They can stop you from sleeping if you have an important presentation at work the next day, an exam, or something that is bothering you. But if you have trouble sleeping with no external factor contributing to it, you may be suffering from insomnia. It is a sleep disorder where the person has trouble falling asleep for a continued period.

For you to understand the two conditions better, heres a detailed explanation of both below.

What is sleep deprivation?

When external factors such as noise on the street, worrying, anxiety etc. interfere with your sleep during your resting window, it leads to sleep deprivation. You can also suffer from the same if you dont get enough sleep, such as 8-9 hours a day.

What is insomnia?

This is a sleep disorder where a person has trouble falling asleep, despite getting an opportunity to do so. The person may keep waking up during the night and have trouble falling back asleep. He/she may also feel tired upon waking and suffer from fatigue the entire day. Having spans of memory loss, being irritable, waking up too early in the morning are also a common sign.

The key differences between sleep deprivation and insomnia

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Complications With Surgery Or Medication Use

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Obstructive sleep apnea can interfere with the effectiveness of certain medications, including general anesthesia. Due to your bodys inability to breathe normally, sleep apnea sufferers are at greater risk of complications following major surgery. Lying on your back and being sedated only add to these risks.

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What Is The Connection Between The Two Conditions

While insomnia and sleep apnea are medically two separate sleep disorders, there is a high percentage of cases in which the two occur simultaneously. Studies have shown that a significant portion of people who have been diagnosed with one of the conditions are later found to suffer from the other condition as well.

One example of how sleep apnea can lead to insomnia is the brain actively inhibiting ones ability to fall asleep so as to avoid experiencing apneas, or cessation of breathing, while asleep. The brain registers the life-threatening nature of apneas and works to prevent them by inducing insomnia.

On the flip side, insomniacs are often found to have undiagnosed sleep apnea or upper airway resistance syndrome , a condition that often precedes sleep apnea, that causes them to wake up multiple times per night.

There is some debate about the root of the causal relationship between the two disorders, but one thing is clear: if you suffer from one condition, there is a high likelihood that you also suffer from or will eventually develop the other if not effectively treated.

How To Treat Sleep Apnea And Insomnia

Perhaps the first and most important treatment for both conditions is to make lifestyle changes that support overall good health. Losing weight by diet and exercise is one change that can make a big difference.

Obesity is a primary risk factor for sleep apnea, and there are many studies that show that exercise can go a long way towards treating insomnia. Maintaining a healthy BMI can also ease sleep apnea and prevent it from worsening .

Learning how to deal with or eliminate stress in your life can also help treat both sleep apnea and insomnia. Insomnia is often caused by stress and an inability of the mind to shut off and sleep. The pauses of breath in sleep apnea produce a stress response in the body that can exacerbate this condition. Meditating, doing yoga, or simply walking in nature can help ease daily stress to help you get a better nights sleep.

For severe OSA, CPAP machines are often literal lifesavers. However, one of the most troubling aspects of sleep apnea and insomnia treatment is that insomnia can reduce CPAP compliance. This may occur because patients who struggle to fall asleep may not feel comfortable with the mask of a CPAP machine and decide to sleep without it.

Fortunately, there are other CPAP alternatives that can help. Sleep positional therapy, sleep apnea oral appliances, and sleep apnea pillows can help sleepers with mild to moderate sleep apnea find comfort and rest.

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