Respiratory Sleep Disorders
A person’s breathing control while awake is both automatic and voluntary. During sleep the voluntary mechanism disappears and respiration is on “autopilot”. At the same time, the absence of wake-state stimuli, normal reduction in muscle tone and reduced lung volume in a recumbent position create conditions that can contribute to sleep-related respiratory disturbances. Normal respiration patterns differ depending on the sleep stage: They are very regular during stages of non-REM deep sleep, but can be irregular during sleep onset and REM sleep.
Normal breathing during sleep should be relatively quiet. This means that fresh air enters the lungs without impediments several times per minute, thus maintaining the body’s metabolic requirements during sleep.
Loud respiratory noise during sleep may indicate the presence of a respiratory disorder. The first clue that something might be wrong is snoring during sleep. This may signal a temporary narrowing or blockage of the upper airways due to relaxation of the airway muscles and pressure from surrounding tissue while in a recumbent position. This narrowing leads to a reduction of air inflow to the lungs called sleep hypopnea, while a complete blockage of those airways is called sleep apnea. Frequently both are described as a single condition called obstructive sleep apnea hypopnea syndrome.
Snoring is always due to some degree of narrowing in the upper airways, but it doesn’t necessarily indicate full-blown obstructive sleep apnea hypopnea syndrome. But a person who snores should, without question, follow up with a physician due to possible health risks.
Another less common breathing problem is known as central sleep apnea. This condition is characterized by a temporary, sometimes cyclic lack of respiratory drive that indicates an absence of proper signaling from the brain to the respiratory system. During sleep, the body “forgets” to breathe for abnormally long periods of time, resulting in irregular respiration.
These disorders interfere with sleep quality and cause daytime sleepiness, performance issues and serious health problems such as hypertension, cardiovascular issues or strokes. Fortunately, effective treatments are available from medical professionals that can improve, to a large degree, a sufferer’s quality of life.
How Will SleepRate Help You?
Use SleepRate for a few days to identify sleep-wake patterns and to measure sleep duration, efficiency and structure. If those measurements suggest a condition that warrants further investigation, you’ll be prompted to consult a physician for an in-depth sleep evaluation.