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Sleep apnoea uncovered

Trouble sleeping? It could be sleep apnoea. Here are the facts you should know.

What is it?

Sleep apnoea is when the walls of the throat constrict during sleep, blocking your airways.

What happens?

When your throat is closed, you don’t get enough oxygen. As your brain registers this, it kicks in and wakes you slightly, causing your airway to open. During this process, the person often snorts and gasps and this can happen hundreds of times per night, depending upon the severity. The result is restless, poor sleep.

What are the causes?

While not fully understood and quite often multi-factorial, some known causes are;

  • Obesity
  • Alcohol
  • Nasal congestion and obstruction
  • Anatomy – narrow and crowded upper airway
  • Some medications

What is the treatment?

  • Weight loss. Losing greater than 5kg has been shown to reduce severity
  • Reduction in alcohol intake
  • Most common and effective is ‘continuous positive airway pressure’ or CPAP – which is sleeping with an oxygen mask
  • Mandibular advancement splints – a dental device which pulls the jaw open and opens the
  • airway
  • Surgery

What is the cost?

The Sleep Health Foundation estimates the cost (direct and indirect) of sleep apnoea to be $21B in Australia annually.

For more information visit sleephealthfoundation.org.au

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