Sleep Disorders

Updated 11 August 2014

Dealing with sleep apnoea

If you have been told that you snore, you wake up with headaches and are constantly sleepy during the day than the chances are you are suffering from sleep apnoea.

“I was so tired that I fell asleep twice at the wheel”

“it was getting scary, I had no idea what was wrong”

“I thought that I was going to miss out on a promotion at work, or get fired.”

These are the testimonials of people who have sleep apnoea. If you have sleep apnoea and you do not do something about it, you could end up putting your life, your family and your health at risk.

If you have been told that you snore, you wake up with headaches and are constantly sleepy during the day than the chances are you are suffering from sleep apnoea.

Sleep apnoea is a breathing disorder that occurs during sleep. Studies have indicated that 4-5% of women and 8-10% of men suffer from Sleep apnoea and overweight people or people with facial deformities that could obstruct airways are more at risk.

Living with untreated sleep apnoea can be challenging. In the following video the narrator explains what his life was like before he was formally diagnosed with sleep apnoea. He was always sleepy at work and he feared that because of this he would lose out on a promotion or even get fired from his job.

Do to his snoring and choking at night his wife feared that he would stop breathing. Also, she no longer wanted to share a bed with him because his condition was depriving her of sleep. 

Treating sleep apnoea, in some cases, can be as simple as a lifestyle change. Losing weight and sleeping on your side could solve all your problems. However, in servere cases you might need to wear an oxygen mask at night while you sleep or even consider surgery.

In the video below the narrator is told that he has sleep apnoea.  His doctor explains that they want him to take part in a sleep study to get a more comprehensive analysis of how servere his sleep apnoea is. 

The narrator talks while preparing for the sleep study - he says he feels uncomfortable and anxious, but it's all worth it if it means that he will feel better.

In the following video, the doctor explains to the narrator the treatment options available to help him deal with his sleep apnoea. Each option is carefully explained with diagrams. The doctor explains that the most effective option for sleep apnoea patients is a face mask. The mask, better known as CPAP (continues positive airway pressure) is placed over the person's mouth while they sleep and pushes oxygen through the airways throughout the night.

Sleep apnoea does not have to ruin your sleep and lessen the quality of your life.  There are many treatment options, and if you think you are suffering from this condition, see a specialist. You can also talk to Health 24’s sleep expert.

(Megan McLean, Health24, September 2010)

Read more:

Sleep apnoea

Sleep apnoea raises heart risks


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Sleep disorders expert

Dr Alison Bentley is a general practitioner who has consulted in sleep medicine and sleep disorders, in both adults and children of all ages, for almost 30 years. She also researches and publishes on a number of sleep-related topics both in formal research journals and lay publications including as editor of Sleep Matters, an educational newsletter on sleep disorders for doctors.

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