Insomnia is one of the most common symptoms of menopause. The culprit may be hormonal changes, but you may also suffer from sleep apnea. This is a serious sleep disorder that occurs when your breathing repeatedly stops during sleep. Your brain and the rest of your body may be starved of oxygen.
You may be more likely to suffer from sleep apnea if you’re overweight, over the age of 40, diabetic, or have high blood pressure or heart problems. A large neck, tonsils,or tongue may also cause sleep apnea.
You can’t perform at your best if you’re not well rested and you may feel sleepy during the day, which can affect your job performance. It’s especially dangerous if you get sleepy while driving.
Your doctor may order a sleep study to confirm that you are suffering from sleep apnea. You report to the sleep center, and the technician takes a brief medical history. Then over 20 wire electrodes are applied to your head, face, and body, and this measures brain waves, eye movements, heart, respiration, oxygen levels, snoring, and muscle tone while you’re sleeping.
Depending on your sleep study results, you may be advised to use continuous positive airway pressure, which is commonly referred to as a CPAP. You wear a mask over your nose and mouth and air flow helps keep your airway open and you breath easier. Check with your insurance to see if a CPAP is covered, because some insurances will pick up the whole tab.
There are also lifestyle changes you can make that may improve your sleep apnea. Losing weight is one of the most important. Excess weight may cause the throat and tongue muscles to become too relaxed, and that blocks your airway.
If you sleep on your back, try switching to your side for at least part of the night. You won’t snore as loudly, and it’s easier to breathe.
This one should be a no-brainer, but smoking can increase the swelling in the upper airway, so enroll in a stop-smoking class or purchase a product that gradually weans you off cigarettes. Your whole body will thank you.
What has been your experience with a CPAP?