Approximately 22 million adults in the US have sleep apnea, meaning it’s one of the most common sleep disorders. And while it’s a common condition, there are many myths surrounding sleep apnea. 

With such a large percentage of people affected, we think it’s important to go over what sleep apnea is, and dispel some of the common misconceptions about this condition that may make people hesitant to get treatment.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that causes a person to temporarily stop breathing or their breathing becomes shallow during their sleep. When this happens, their brain wakes them up many times throughout the night to resume breathing.

There are two types of sleep apnea:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea is caused by a blockage in the airway when soft tissue naturally collapses when asleep.
  • Central sleep apnea is caused by issues with the brain signaling to the muscles that they should breathe

Common Myths About Sleep Apnea

Myth #1: Snoring Means You Have Sleep Apnea

Snoring is a symptom of sleep apnea, but just because someone snores does not mean they have sleep apnea. Vibrations of the soft tissues of the throat and airway are what cause snoring and is a sign that air is having a difficult time moving in and out of the lungs. Each type of sleep apnea can have different symptoms.

Common symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea are:

  • Excessive sleepiness throughout the day 
  • Dry mouth after waking up
  • Frequent morning headaches that last over a span of hours
  • Daytime drowsiness
  • Frequent nighttime urination
  • Irritability and mood swings throughout the day
  • Decreased concentration and shortened attention span
  • Loud snoring that sounds as if the person is choking or gasping for air

Common symptoms that are associated with central sleep apnea are:

  • Difficulties staying asleep all night
  • Pauses in breathing, shallow breath, or any other abnormalities when breathing
  • Chest pains at night
  • Shortness of breath at night
  • Significant daytime sleepiness
  • Reduced concentration during the day
  • Morning headaches

If you deal with any of these other symptoms along with snoring, it’s important to have your snoring observed by a medical professional. Over time, sleep apnea can increase the risk of other conditions and have long-term effects on your health.

Myth #2: Sleep Apnea Doesn’t Affect Your Health

As mentioned above, sleep apnea can have serious health risks, such as heart conditions, diabetes, and liver issues. This breathing condition causes a disturbance in the upper airways that prevent healthy breathing and allows the body to enter the restorative stages of sleep. Finding treatments to manage this condition can be beneficial to improve symptoms that come with sleep apnea and overall health. 

Myth #3: Sleep Apnea Only Affects People Who Are Overweight

Even though a majority of people who have been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea are overweight, there is still a significant amount of people who are of average weight that still have been diagnosed with sleep apnea. Sleep apnea can affect anyone of all shapes and sizes. Skinny people can also develop sleep apnea due to factors like genetic predisposition or anatomical abnormalities.

Sometimes genetics are a large part of this, and the way our bodies are constructed is the main cause of sleep apnea. The same way you might look like your parents, you may also have inherited a similar facial constitution, meaning you are also prone to have sleep apnea.

Because of this stigma surrounding weight issues and sleep apnea, many people without any weight issues miss the opportunity for a diagnosis and getting the care they need for their sleep apnea. 

Myth #4: Sleep Apnea Will Go Away Over Time

Adapting to CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) therapy for your sleep apnea can be difficult to adjust to. This makes it easier for people to abandon therapy. Some may not take this condition very seriously and think they can go on without therapy. But with the risks associated with sleep apnea, it is better to have your sleep apnea monitored and taken care of with appropriate treatments.

Sleep apnea does not get better on its own, and with so many different treatments available to support patients, you can have a higher rate of success in eliminating snoring and sleep apnea. Dedicated treatment plans and other actions like weight loss, dieting, and psychology can all be beneficial in managing this breathing condition.

Myth #5: Children Don’t Get Sleep Apnea

While unfortunate, there are children that develop sleep apnea. In many cases, children are affected when they have enlarged tonsils and adenoids, though obesity does account for a portion of child patients.

Sleep specialists believe the smaller airways of children increase the risk of apnea when any additional pressure from abnormalities or fatty tissue is placed on the respiratory system. Sleep apnea in children is harder to diagnose considering it takes the parent to spot these irregular breathing patterns while the child is asleep or to notice daytime symptoms.

Myth #6: Alcohol or Sleeping Pills Can Help You Sleep

The sedative effects of many sleep medications or alcohol can actually increase the relaxation in the throat, extending periods without breathing and leading to worse symptoms in the morning. When sleep apnea is undiagnosed, it’s easy to assume that a bad night’s sleep is the cause of any unexplained fatigue, headaches, or a lack of focus during the morning after using sleeping pills or drinking.

Anyone who is prescribed sleep medication that has sleep apnea symptoms should always discuss the benefits and risks of these treatments with their doctor first.

Let DreamZz Sleep Center Help You Get Better Sleep For A Better You

Restful sleep is important for a healthy life. If you or a loved one is suspected of having sleep apnea, take it seriously and find a doctor or sleep center that can help you find treatment for your symptoms.

At DreamZz Sleep Center, we help you start those treatments as soon as possible, giving a consultation and sleep study within one or two weeks of your initial inquiry.

Start having better sleep for a better day! Contact us today to book an appointment.