Sleep is a natural, essential, biological process that all living organisms perform. Not only is sleep physically restorative for the body, but it’s necessary for your mind and cognitive functions as well. Unfortunately, those who suffer from sleep apnea are not able to get a full night’s rest. Aside from feeling tired, sleep apnea sufferers face much higher risks of chronic, sometimes fatal, health conditions.
So then, what is sleep apnea and how does it affect one’s overall health? Sleep apnea is an extremely common sleep disorder in which a person’s breathing repeatedly stops and starts. Each episode or pause in breathing is referred to as an apnea, and can last anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes. Sleep apnea sufferers may experience up to 60 apneas per hour in extreme cases.
Sleep apnea is prevalent in an estimated 18 million Americans, however, two to four percent of all Americans have an undiagnosed case of sleep apnea. This accounts for nearly one in 50 Americans who are undiagnosed. Untreated sleep apnea sufferers face much higher risks of stroke, up to four times more than people who are not afflicted. In addition, they are three times more likely to develop heart disease.
Luckily, however there are a number of highly effective treatments for sleep apnea that can not only reduce or completely eliminate apneas, but help to combat higher risks of both stroke and heart disease. For example, continuous positive airway pressure or CPAP machines are a common way to treat sleep apnea. CPAP machines provide a steady stream of air through a mask that is fitted over the nose or mouth, which in turn prevent apneas from occurring.
Roughly 45% of sleep apnea sufferers prefer to use nasal CPAP masks whereas 50% prefer to use CPAP nasal pillows. While CPAP masks cover most of the face, CPAP nasal pillows only cover the nose, which is perfect for those who may feel claustrophobic.