“I can sleep anywhere, any time – even during the day. I don’t have a sleep problem.” Does this phrase sound familiar to you? Do you or someone you know say this constantly? If yes, there may be probable cause for concern as it may ironically, be a sign of sleep apnea – a condition in which a person stops breathing at night whilst asleep. Datuk Dr. Kuljit Singh, otolaryngology specialist at the Prince Court Medical Centre tells us all about sleep apnea – what causes it, its symptoms and treatment methods.
What is it, exactly?
“It’s a condition whereby a person stops breathing while asleep. Apnea refers to the period when the breath ceases. These apneic periods may last from a couple of seconds to a minute – at which point, the body’s breathing mechanism will often be triggered again. While 5 or less apneic episodes over a duration of sleep is normal – anything above 5 would be considered sleep apnea.”
Why is it a problem?
“It interrupts the quality of sleep, and causes a person to be lacking in oxygen. The brain will die if it doesn’t receive oxygen for 8 minutes. So, naturally, even if it were just for a minute (and this would be happening several times in a sleep cycle) – it can have detrimental effects such as lethargy upon waking despite having gotten enough sleep the night before. Additionally, the heart, lungs, and other organs may also suffer from a lack of oxygen.”