Sleep apnoea – breathing interruptions at night

Across Switzerland, more than 150,000 people are affected by a sleep apnoea diagnosis. This illness significantly impacts the depth and quality of our sleep. In particular, the effects of sleep apnoea are noticeable during the day. Once a diagnosis has been made, treatment can be started.

05.03.2018

Carmen Schmidli

Sleep apnoea leads to short interruptions in breathing in the night and can result in chronic sleepiness and poor concentration during daytime hours. Men are faced with such a diagnosis twice as frequently as women. The symptoms and causes of sleep apnoea syndrome are diverse. But effective treatment for sleep apnoea is available.

Undergo the sleep apnoea risk test

Snore at night? Are you often tired during the day? These can be symptoms of sleep apnoea. Take the first step and test your sleep apnoea risk in a quick and simple manner. Should you exhibit a heightened level of risk, contact your doctor. This will allow you to start with treatment in good time.

Symptoms of sleep apnoea in men

Loud and irregular snoring is a typical symptom among men. This is often accompanied by interruptions in breathing that last a few seconds and occur several times a night. Those affected notice nothing during their sleep. In most cases, it is their partner who first notices the nightly pauses in their breathing, as they are woken up by the loud snoring and subsequently become aware of the irregular breathing. The symptoms of sleep apnoea mean that sleep is disturbed and our nightly recovery is impaired. During the day, those affected feel tired and struggle to concentrate. They may also momentarily nod off. Increased sweating at night and heightened blood pressure are also symptoms of sleep apnoea. As symptoms such as snoring are easier to recognise in men, a sleep apnoea diagnosis is made more frequently.

Symptoms of sleep apnoea in women

It is less common for women to be affected by sleep apnoea. Should a woman nevertheless suffer from this illness, the symptoms are often unclear. It is therefore difficult to make a diagnosis, meaning that sleep apnoea frequently goes undetected among women. Morning headaches, digestion problems, mood swings and depression, for instance, are symptoms that indicate sleep apnoea syndrome.

If the illness remains undiscovered over years and there is no treatment, sleep apnoea can lead to cardiovascular illnesses. For those affected, the risk of accidents at the workplace or when driving as a result of nodding off at the wheel also increases.

Useful tips – what you can do

Take preventative steps! These tips also help if you already suffer from sleep apnoea. How to alleviate the symptoms:

  1. Do not drink any alcohol before going to sleep. This intensifies snoring and sleep disturbances.
  2. Don’t use sleeping aids, as these cause the muscles in your throat area to relax.
  3. Sleep on your side, as this facilitates free breathing. For some sufferers, interruptions in breathing and snoring primarily occur when sleeping in the supine position.
  4. Shed your excess weight: less weight normalises your breathing.

Causes of sleep apnoea

The exact triggers of sleep apnoea syndrome remain unknown. However, some risk factors do bring on the illness: excess weight, old age, anatomical conditions such as narrow passageways in the nose and throat region or a large neck circumference, evening alcohol consumption, enlarged tonsils, the taking of sleeping aids or sedatives and smoking. Generally speaking, men are at a higher risk of suffering from sleep apnoea.

It is also striking that sleep apnoea syndrome occurs more frequently within families. This can be put town to anatomical similarities in the nose and throat region that give rise to nightly interruptions in breathing.

Effective treatment for sleep apnoea

Continuous positive airway pressure therapy (CPAP therapy) with a nose mask is the most effective treatment for sleep apnoea. Thanks to this therapy, those affected can lead a symptom-free life. The CPAP device guides a flow of air into the nose mask worn by the sleep apnoea sufferer during the night. This keeps the airways open, meaning that you can breathe freely at night. In most cases, the symptoms disappear quickly after the start of the treatment. Those affected can once again enjoy relaxing sleep and feel fit once more during the day.

For further information on sleep apnoea therapy, please contact your doctor. The Swiss Lung Association will also support you with any questions you may have: the Swiss Lung Association installs the devices, provides sleep apnoea suffers with instructions on usage, offers assistance with mask adjustments and helps to integrate the therapy in your everyday life. You can find further information here.

The Helsana Coach app: tips for improved sleep

Sleep is important for your well-being. Getting enough sleep doesn’t just make us feel better during the following day, it also has positive long-term effects on our health. In the Helsana Coach app, you can find interesting information and tips on sleep.

Further information

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