According to the National Sleep Foundation “Sleep in America Poll” released in March of 2010, roughly one third of Americans are not getting enough sleep. The research was based on about 1,000 poll respondents and analyzed the results based on respondent ethnicity. According to the poll blacks, whites and hispanics were nearly twice as likely as asians to have been diagnosed with a sleep disorder. More than one third of all respondents said they used either over the counter or prescription sleep medications. All races suffered from sleep apnea.
Sleep Apnea refers to a disruption of breathing while asleep, which if left untreated can be life-threatening. However, approximately 90% of people who technically have Sleep Apnea have never been diagnosed or realize they suffer from its affects. One type of sleep apnea, obstructive sleep apnea, occurs when the throat muscles collapse during sleep, preventing air from getting to the lungs. Certain factors contribute to the occurrence of obstructive sleep apnea, including being overweight, large tonsils or adenoids, deviated septum, enlarged tongue, receding chin, nasal congestion or blockage from a cold, allergies or smoking, use of alcohol or sedatives which relax the throat muscles.
A second type of sleep apnea is called Central Sleep Apnea. Central sleep apnea stops breathing during sleep because the brain temporarily stops sending signals to the muscles that control breathing. Central sleep apnea results from conditions that affect the brain stem, including stroke, obesity, bulbar poliomyelitis, encephalitis, Parkinson’s disease, arthritis, radiation of the spine, and congestive hear failure.
The primary therapy recommended for both types of sleep apnea is a CPAP machine. CPAP machines provide pressurized air through a mask while the person sleeps. Even though CPAP machines work very well to prevent sleep apnea, about half of all people who try them stop using them because they are uncomfortable, noisy and difficult to use.