Do you snore when you sleep? Veteran actor Chao Shun remembers sleeping over at a friend’s place one night when he was 26, snoring so loudly that it woke up the neighbors living on the floor above. At the time, he laughed and dismissed it as insignificant. In recent years, however, Chao has been suffering from high blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels. He also had a stroke, is on dialysis, feels bloated and falls asleep during the day, so after getting checked out just before the Lunar New Year and learning the shocking news that he experiences as many as 170 apneas, or pauses in breathing, every hour when sleeping, which could lead to sudden death, he decided to undergo treatment.
Lin Chia-mo, president of the Taiwan Society of Sleep Medicine (TSSM), says that apart from the daytime, sleeping at night is also crucially important when treating chronic diseases. People with sleep apnea do not sleep well, causing excitation in the sympathetic nervous system and hypoxia, which counteracts the body’s regulation of chronic diseases related to blood sugar levels and blood pressure.
TSSM used sleep research questionnaires that are commonly used internationally to survey 1,068 adults between the age of 20 and 60. The results showed that 68 percent of them snore during sleep, while more than half of them thought that snoring is just a part of life. Only 20 percent were aware that snoring is related to sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea usually occurs in tandem with other more fatal conditions. Compared with the average person, a person suffering from sleep apnea is seven times more likely to have a car accident, three times more likely to have unstable blood pressure, 1.6 times more prone to have a stroke, and 2.4 times more likely to suffer congestive heart failure, says a recent study in the top medical journal The Lancet.
Lin suggests that you should take a sleeping test to better understand your situation if you snore or are not sleeping well. If you have sleep apnea, you can then choose the most appropriate treatment and get out of the vicious cycle of poor sleep and chronic disease.
(Liberty Times, Translated by Kyle Jeffcoat)