When you have tried everything to improve your sleep, but you are still not sleeping, it is time to dig deeper and determine if there is something else going on.
By far, the most common sleep disorder is obstructive sleep apnea.
It is estimated that up to 30% of Canadians suffer from it, yet only 6.4% have recognized the diagnosis.
What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a serious condition in which a person’s breathing is repeatedly interrupted during the night. During normal sleep, air moves in an unobstructed, regular rhythm through the upper airway, the throat into and out of the lungs. With obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), airway blockages, usually from soft tissue collapse, prevent the normal regular breathing rhythm.
What are the symptoms?
The main symptoms of OSA are
However, some people have no symptoms or may not recognize that they have symptoms.
Other symptoms may include one or more of the following:
The key to addressing sleep apnea is to recognize it - start with our downloadable checklist - if you score as high risk, talk to your doctor about getting a sleep assessment.
(For more on Sleep Apnea - check out our previous post: Sleep Apnea - what you need to know).
Other significant sleep disorders will get picked up through this review process.
Excessive daytime sleepiness due to narcolepsy or other central types of hypersomnolence will be considered before or after sleep apnea is ruled out, depending on your history.
Sleep-walking or excessive movements in bed, restless leg syndrome or other disorders are best managed with a referral to a sleep specialist.
The Wellness Garage SLEEPSounder approach leverages a check-list system.
Start by assessing your current sleep habits - we refer to this as sleep hygiene. In all cases, improving these will be part of the solution for your concerns.
At the same time, screen yourself for obstructive sleep apnea - if you score anything other than Low - bring the checklist to your physician to review. They will determine the next steps - either a referral for a Home Sleep Apnea Test or a consultation with a sleep specialist.
Dr. Brendan Byrne