Hi, I’m Dave Hubbard, Nurse Practitioner with Sleep Centers of Middle Tennessee. One of the questions I get asked most often is, “Can sleep apnea put me at risk for other diseases?” The answer is, Yes.
Let’s examine how sleep apnea and heart related issues like hypertension are related, and how you can treat your sleep apnea once and for all.
What Is Sleep Physiology?
Normal sleep physiology is a naturally designed process that maintains physical and mental health. There are different cycles of sleep physiology.
Cycles Of Sleep Physiology:
- Light Sleep
- Deep Sleep
- REM Sleep
What Takes Place While You Sleep?
There are many bodily functions that take place while we sleep that help internal systems recover and prepare for the day ahead.
During the different sleep cycles, you’re body begins to slow down.
- Your body’s metabolic rate decreases.
- Your sympathetic nerve activity (also known as the fight or flight response) reduces.
- Your blood pressure and heart rate decrease.
How Sleep Apnea Impacts Heart Health
Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when breathing stops and starts while you sleep.
When sleep apnea occurs, oxygen levels throughout your body drop and this often triggers hyperventilation (or rapid breathing). This is followed by a sympathetically mediated vassal constriction or “squeezing of the blood vessels” to deliver more oxygen to your brain and vital organs.
This response to hypoxia (or low oxygen) can be harmful to your health overtime if not treated, thereby leading to hypertension. This may also lead to resistant hypertension, which is high blood pressure that does not respond to treatment with medication.
How You Can Treat Sleep Apnea
Don’t wait to improve your health. If you suspect you have sleep apnea, it’s important to treat it now.