Sleep warning: The breathing condition that can disrupt your sleep and affect your mood

Sleep issues aren’t restricted to insomnia. Falling asleep easily, and thinking you’ve had a full eight hours can still lead you to feel very tired throughout the day. What is going on?

You went to bed for 11pm, or around that time, and eight hours later you still feel shattered.

Upon waking you have a headache, and throughout the day you feel tired, find it hard to concentrate, and suffer from mood swings – sound familiar?

If so, you may be suffering from sleep apnoea. The NHS confirms that this condition occurs when your breathing stops and starts while you sleep.


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Ask your partner if they’ve noticed you making gasping, snorting or choking noises throughout the night.

Sleep alone? Have you been waking up a lot during the night, or you’ve previously been told you’re a loud snorer?

The condition can be serious if not diagnosed and treated, so any concerns do need to be raised to your GP.

If the health professional suspects sleep apnoea, they may refer you to a specialist clinic for tests.

One such test monitors your breathing and heartbeat while you sleep.

It helps to diagnose sleep apnoea and provides data on how severe it is using the AHI score.

The AHI score can be classified as mild, moderate or severe. Specifically:

  • Mild – AHI of five to 14
  • Moderate – AHI of 15 to 30
  • Severe – AHI of over 30

Should sleep apnoea be mild or severe, the NHS will provide a free CPAP machine.

The NHS explained: “A CPAP machine gently pumps air into a mask you wear over your mouth or nose while you sleep.”

It helps people to get a better night’s sleep by preventing the airways from narrowing too much and improving your breathing.

Other treatment options include a gum shield-like device that holds your airways open when you sleep (named mandibular advancement device).

Surgery may be considered, such as removing large tonsils, to help your breathing.


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To help manage symptoms of the condition, the NHS advises to not smoke, don’t drink too much alcohol before sleeping, and not to take sleeping pills – it can worsen sleep apnoea.

The national health body also encourages sufferers to lose weight (if overweight) and to sleep on your side..

To help keep you on your side throughout the night, buy a special pillow or bed wedge to keep you in position.

Without treatment, sleep apnoea can lead to high blood pressure and depression.

The tiredness felt throughout the day can make driving to the shops dangerous.

This is because tiredness can affect a person’s level of concentration and can increase the risk of having a car accident.

Moreover, those with untreated sleep apnoea have a higher chance of stroke.

And the sleep condition can also cause strain in a romantic relationship, as the other partner suffers from sleep deprivation too.

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