Sleep apnea could be keeping you up at night

Are you tired of being sleepy? If the usual causes — that all-night Netflix binge, too much coffee or the neighbor’s barking dog — are ruled out, the answer might be medical. Sometimes a full night in bed isn’t enough. To wake up feeling rested, the quality of your sleep is as important as the quantity.

Sleep apnea is a common culprit. In some ways, it’s the opposite of insomnia. Your nasal area relaxes to the point of blocking your oxygen, causing you to stop breathing momentarily. The lack of oxygen causes you to awaken with a gasp. Breathing restored, you fall back to sleep — until the pattern repeats itself.

There’s a good chance you won’t even be aware of this cycle. … All you know is that you are drowsy the next day. A sleep study can confirm the existence or severity of sleep apnea. It measures, among other things, the oxygen levels in your bloodstream while you sleep. When your breathing stops, the level drops. Over the course of the night, your sleep study will reveal a pattern that indicates whether you have apnea.

There are a number of treatments for sleep apnea, such as coblation therapy, oral appliances and surgery. Sometimes a combination of treatments are needed.

If you think you might have sleep apnea, the first step is to see a doctor. There’s more to lose than drowsiness. Apnea can fatigue, headaches, forgetfulness and irritability. In the long term, it can also lead to heart problems.