Obstructive sleep apnea affects around 20 million Americans and can lead to hypertension, heart attack, stroke, depression, muscle pain, fibromyalgia, morning headaches, and excessive daytime sleepiness.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Circadian Rhythm and How we Fall Asleep

When writing for a sleep apnea blog, it's impossible to not write about sleep, itself, and the mechanics of how we come to sleep and what happens while we sleep. If you are a sleep apnea sufferer, you may not even know you have this dangerous disorder, but your partner may notice that your breathing is stopping several times a night and you are gasping for air while you sleep. If this is the case, you should contact a sleep apnea specialist such as Dr. Ira Shapira in Gurnee, Illinois immediately, as sleep apnea can be a life-threatening condition but is treatable.

So, let's get back to sleep (or the topic of sleep that is). All humans have what is called a circadian rhythm, which is like an internal clock that tells us when we should be awake and when we should be asleep. The term "circadian" comes from the Latin "circa" which means "around" and "diem" or "dies" which means "day," so it literally means "approximately one day." Our Circadian rhythm is linked to the cycle of light and dark.

There are many health problems associated with disturbances in our circadian rhythm including seasonal affective disorder (SAD, ironically, is the acronym for this disorder) and delayed sleep phase syndrome (DSPS). Disruption to our circadian rhythm will most likely have a negative impact on us both mentally and physically.

During the day, a chemical messenger known as "adenosine" builds up as our bodies use energy, and the more adenosine that builds up, the sleepier we will feel around bedtime. Adenosine, working in combination with your natural circadian rhythm sends the message to your brain and body that it's time to sleep.

If you have difficulty sleeping, feel fatigued during the day, have anxiety and other health problems, or your partner states you gasp for air while you sleep, you may suffer from sleep apnea. Please contact Dr. Shapira today to schedule a thorough evaluation.

posted by Lynn at 11:48 AM