Summarized in general terms, sleep apnea can be defined as respiratory arrest during sleep. However, in order to fully understand what sleep apnea is, we must first take a look at what sleep is and its functions.
What is Sleep?
Sleep is a resting process. A healthy sleep state accounts for about one-third of human life. This situation leads to the conclusion that we should spend the sleep period as healthy as the waking period.
Scientifically speaking, sleep is the resting and regenerative phase of our body. With this definition, we can list the functions of sleep in general as follows;
As the phase that regulates and balances almost all of our living standards, we can say that sleep is an important point of our health in general. For this reason, sleep problems can affect both our health and our lives directly at some points.
Snoring and Sleep Apnea Syndrome
Snoring is a condition that indicates that the airway is not fully open. The sound of snoring is the sound of air trying to pass through the airway that is not sufficiently open. Snoring can occur as a result of breathing disorders during sleep. However, snoring can be a symptom of sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is a state of relaxation in the muscles that open or close the upper respiratory tract during sleep. Due to this relaxation, there is a narrowing of the airways, and considering that the relaxation is quite high in sleep apnea cases, this is a very risky situation.
During sleep apnea, the advanced relaxation of the respiratory muscles due to sleep makes it difficult to breathe. The brain increases the respiratory effort as breathing becomes more difficult, which brings with it a mild awakening. With a slight awakening, the airway opens completely and respiratory effort returns to normal.
With this return to normal in breathing, the muscles relax again, the breathing becomes narrow again, and with the increase of respiratory effort again, a state of awakening from sleep occurs. These repetitive states continue throughout the entire sleep phase. Moreover, these waking states, which are experienced throughout the night, are so mild that they are often not remembered. However, this means that the body and brain cannot receive enough oxygen during sleep in patients with sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is a condition in which the body, and especially the brain, cannot receive enough oxygen during the body's regeneration phase. This situation carries life-threatening risks. For this reason, first of all, it is useful to know what the symptoms of sleep apnea syndrome are.
Sleep Apnea in Children
Large adenoids or tonsils in children can trigger airway obstruction, therefore leading to sleep apnea. Difficulty in breathing or snoring during sleep are not independent of each other and they also indicate something wrong with the respiratory tract. According to studies, 25% of children with attention deficit and hyperactivity diagnosis have sleep apnea. The recurring and constant snoring in children every night is certainly not normal. If these conditions are observed, it is necessary to consult a doctor without neglecting them.
Sleep Apnea in Adults
The symptoms of sleep apnea in adults can appear suddenly, sometimes in a way that is not obvious, and can be overlooked. However, sleep apnea leads to the emergence of unhealthy individuals in a social sense as well as physiologically, with the effects it creates on people, and this situation can be noticed by the person's social environment.
How is the Sleep Test Done?
Sleep tests are used in the diagnosis of sleep apnea problems. Sleep tests are information gathering tests that collect information for the purpose of observing sleep stages and diagnosing sleep problems.
Sleep controlled by different parts of the brain consists of different sleep stages, namely, falling asleep, superficial sleep, deep sleep and REM sleep. In sleep tests, the activities of the brain and body can be observed to determine which sleep stage the person is in.
Through sleep tests, the activities that the body continues during sleep (mouth and nose breathing, muscle movements, brain waves, heart rhythm) can be recorded through small metal discs attached to the skin, and the changes can be observed systematically. During sleep tests, the oxygen level can also be continuously measured and recorded with the help of a finger-mounted sensor. None of the instruments used during sleep tests are painful instruments, and it enables the detection and therefore diagnosis of all abnormal conditions that may develop in the body during sleep, and this makes definitive treatments possible.