Each night millions of Americans go to bed and drift into an evening sleep wherein they snore and gasp for breath throughout the night. This symptom leads to chronic sleeplessness, hypertension, type 2 diabetes and heart diseases.
About 22 million Americans are suffering from this condition, known as sleep apnea. About 1 in 12 suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), and 26% of adults aged 30-70 years have OSA. It doesn’t end here:
According to a study published in the European Respiratory Journal, researchers have warned, women with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) have a higher risk of getting cancer than men.
People undergoing sleeping disorders and deprivations are facing dire consequences like the heightened risk of cardiovascular diseases, stroke, depression, overweight and sudden cardiac death.
Take your sleep seriously!
Iconic Hollywood stars like Carrie Fisher and Amanda Peterson have had an unfortunate death due to sleep apnea. Thus, lack of sleep has a negative impact on your energy, mood, concentration and overall health.
Popular American actress and Emmy nominated comedian, Amy Poehler, was diagnosed with OSA after her pregnancy. It has explained her tortuous relationship with sleep in several interviews. She would wake up multiple times in the night and continuously dozed off during the day.
You should never ignore such symptoms; this is just the beginning of a sleep disorder. Come with me, as I take you to a curated list of Hollywood actors who have come out in the open and spoken about their battle with sleep apnea.
Rosie O’Donnell- American comedian, actor and author
After years of absurdly loud snoring, the actress was diagnosed with sleep apnea in the year 2007 and revealed it to the world on her American talk show ‘The View’. On her talk show, she demonstrated the scary reality of the sleep apnea. The actress said that “I used to wake up 200 times, i.e. 25 times per hour in an 8-hour sleep shift and could not breathe for 40 seconds at a time”.
After using the CPAP treatment, the actress did experience a significant change.
Late Reginald Howard White- American football player
Popularly known as Reggie White, this defensive lineman unexpectedly passed away due to organ inflammation, but doctors explained that his undiagnosed sleep apnea complicated the matter. It is a warning call for many of us who overlook their sleep disorders and deprivation. Consult your doctor right away!
Randy Jackson- American Idol Judge
Randy Jackson was diagnosed with sleep apnea and type 2 diabetes at the same time. According to data, about 40% of men with type-2 diabetes suffer from OSA.
After his gastric bypass surgery, he was at risk for a heart attack wherein his sleep apnea was not helping anyway. He cites that his weight loss and CPAP treatments have helped him a lot.
Roseanne Barr- Actress and Comedian
Although, she is known for her famous voice and garnered 50,000 votes nationwide in the U.S Presidential Elections in 2012, but couldn’t escape her loud snoring. She spoke publicly about her disease and have fought it well.
Sleep apnea is also associated with other signs like:
insomnia (frequent awakenings)
frequent headaches in the morning
waking up with a sore throat
trouble in concentration
While dealing with sleep apnea patients for several years, I have come across a few questions which I would like to elaborate on in this blog. According to me, people often have a stigma or discomfort in wearing a mask. Here, I would like to answer some questions that are revolving in your mind.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
Q.1) If left untreated, what are the dangers of sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea may deprive your body of oxygen, putting long-term stress on other health issues like:
High blood pressure– When you stop breathing during sleep apnea, you release stress hormones, suffer from hardened arteries and high BP.
Heart diseases– OSA patients are prone to heart attacks because of the disrupted flow of oxygen, affecting your heart.
Type 2 diabetes– Sleep apnea is directly linked with type 2 diabetes and obesity. Weight loss cannot solve the issue entirely, but will surely aid in the treatment.
Weight gain- Inadequate sleep can cause hormone imbalance leading to appetite, irritability and obesity.
Fatal accidents- People with sleep apnea are mostly exhausted, which increases the risk of car accidents and other life-threatening incidents.
Q.2) Can sleep apnea lead to death?
Yes! I have mentioned some celebrities who have lost their lives due to sleep apnea. The biggest concern is that people are unknown about the symptoms, and the disease goes undiagnosed, leading to cardiac death- like in the case of Carrie Fisher.
Q.3) Can alcohol act as a trigger in sleep apnea?
Of course. There have been cases wherein people had an episode of OSA after drinking even when they didn’t have the condition. Alcohol relaxes your throat muscles that lead to OSA. Drinking and snoring can affect your sleeping patterns. You might consider it as a nightcap, but it can wreak havoc on your sleep.
Get it checked!
If you have such symptoms, then get it diagnosed through a home sleep test or consult your doctor for a traditional sleep study, called polysomnogram. Sleep apnea is no more a taboo subject; this condition is more common than you think. Many notable figures have been in the same circumstances as you and are living like a warrior.
Aadarsh Sharma is closely associated with Pranayam Lung and Heart Institute. He is also a fitness expert and is passionate about writing to educate. He is an avid reader and likes to share his thoughts on healthy habits through his highly informative blogs.