What did you hear about sleep apnea? Misconceptions about sleep apnea can be dangerous if it stops individuals from seeking treatment. It’s time to tackle these most common myths and promote healthy sleep!
Myth: If you snore, you probably have sleep apnea.
Truth: This is one of the biggest misconceptions about sleep apnea. While snoring is often a symptom of sleep apnea, it’s not guaranteed. Forty percent* of adults snore, and 26 percent of adults have sleep apnea. Snoring occurs when the tissues vibrate in the throat. However, it can be caused by congestion, nasal structure, alcohol, or a soft palate. Other disorders that can cause snoring are obesity, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes. So a person can snore without having sleep apnea.
Myth: You don’t need to seek treatment for sleep apnea.
Truth: Sleep apnea should be taken seriously. If you think you may have sleep apnea or have been diagnosed with it but have not been compliant with treatment, it’s time to take action. Untreated sleep apnea has negative mental and physical health consequences. For example, sleep apnea can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, depression and put you at an increased risk of falling asleep while driving.
Myth: I’m young; it can’t impact me.
Truth: While sleep apnea affects older adults at a higher rate**, sleep apnea can impact anyone, even children. It impacts close to 10 percent of children between 2 and 8 years old.
Myth: I’m thin; it can’t impact me.
Truth: Although sleep apnea can cause obesity and vice versa, it’s not a straight-line indication of sleep apnea. The disorder can impact anyone. Sometimes, genetics can be a contributing factor because of the way the face is shaped.
Myth: You’ll sleep better if you have some alcohol.
Truth: You may have heard people say that they sleep best after they have consumed alcohol. While they may have initially fallen asleep quickly, they will not get quality sleep from drinking. Alcohol reduces the Rapid Eye Movement stage in sleep, so if you have sleep apnea and drink alcohol before bed, you will be even more tired.
Myth: You don’t have sleep apnea. You’re just depressed.
Truth: The truth is that sleep apnea can make underlying depression worst. A chronic lack of sleep due to sleep apnea makes you feel constantly tired with little energy to do anything. So often, those with depression are asked about their sleep habit. Poor sleep correction, whether it’s sleep apnea or sleep hygiene, will help to improve depressive symptoms.
Myth: CPAP masks are embarrassing.
Truth: Of course, they are; however, CPAP masks have come a long way in comfort and appearance. There are various options to choose from that will make you comfortable at night, and the machines themselves are relatively quiet. Additionally, those who are getting quality sleep will look significantly better during the day.
If you are CPAP intolerant, we have an alternative comfortable treatment oral appliances.
It’s estimated that one in 1 in 5 adults in the United States have obstructive sleep apnea, which equals 18 million people. Approximately 80% of these people are undiagnosed.
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*. Ohayon MM et al., “Snoring and breathing pauses during sleep: telephone interview survey of a United Kingdom population sample”. BMJ. (1997); 314:860–3.
**. Ancoli-Israel S, Kripke DF, Klauber MR, Mason WJ, Fell R, Kaplan O. Sleep-disordered breathing in community-dwelling elderly. Sleep 1991;14:486–495.