What is sleep apnoea?
Sleep apnoea is a respiratory sleep disorder characterised by pauses in breathing (minimum of 10 seconds) that can repeated several times per hour of sleep.
We call these apnoea or respiratory pauses.
Respiratory pauses can severely impact the quality of sleep and quality of life.
What are the symptoms of sleep apnoea?
The person struggling with sleep apnea is usually not the first to notice.
Usually, it is the partner who first notices breathing pauses, which can also be accompanied by snoring and restless sleep.
The sufferer of sleep apnoea will usually only experience daytime symptoms, such as a feeling of fatigue upon waking up, irritability, a lack of concentration, and increased fatigue despite feeling that one has slept well.
Respiratory pauses lead to a decrease in heart rate, which then accelerates when you resume breathing.
These heart rhythm disturbances lead to fatigue of the heart muscle (myocardium), which, over time, promote the onset of serious pathologies.
There is also a decrease in the supply of oxygen in the blood.
Common symptoms and/or side effects of sleep apnoea include:
- Loud snoring
- Fatigue throughout the day, despite spending enough time in bed
- Episodes of gasping for breath while sleeping
- Startled awakenings with a feeling of suffocation
- Difficulty concentrating and remembering
- Mood disorders
- Headaches, especially in the morning
When should you seek help?
Apnoeas and micro-awakening are rarely felt by patients, which often leads to a delay in seeking help.
80% of patients are unaware that they are sick.
It is necessary to consult with a practitioner as soon as a partner notices the respiratory pauses or at the onset of symptoms, such as increased fatigue, irritability, or lack of concentration.
These can seriously compromise professional and social activities.
Your attending physician will be able to refer you to a specialist.
Is it possible to decrease sleep apnoea with the help of a physiotherapist?
A physiotherapist or specialist speech therapist cannot replace the treatments implemented by a medical team but working with a physiotherapist can help improve the severity of sleep apnoea and its effects.
This is not only limited to lingual gymnastics.
Usually, physiotherapy care involved a personalised training programme for regular physical exercise.
Sporty, active people generally enjoy a better quality of sleep than sedentary people.
Sleep apnoea is also often common in overweight people.
Physical exercise and a regulated diet will work together to allow for better management of the symptoms of sleep apnoea.
Not all physiotherapists are trained to assist with sleep apnoea. Your attending physician will be able to refer you.
Do you have any other comments or advice for our readers?
If in doubt, don’t wait, consult!