Are sleep disorders common?

There are more than 70 different sleep disorders with up to 80 per cent going undiagnosed. A staggering 90 per cent of Australians will suffer from a sleep disorder in their lifetime – 30 per cent will be severe.

Sleep problems are responsible for nine per cent of work-related injuries, eight per cent of diagnosed depression cases, seven per cent of motor vehicle accidents and three per cent of diabetes diagnoses. To put it into perspective, someone with 18 hours of sleep deprivation has the same driving performance as someone with a 0.05 blood-alcohol reading.

What is Sleep Apnoea?

Sleep Apnoea is a common condition causing pauses in breathing (apnoea) or excessively shallow breathing (hypopnea) while sufferers sleep.

Around nine per cent of women and 25 per cent of men in Australia have clinically significant Sleep Apnoea. Sleep Apnoea can cause daytime sleepiness, snoring, depression, difficulties with concentration, memory loss and put stress on personal relationships.

The disease causes the soft tissues in the throat, including the tongue, to collapse and be sucked against the back of the throat. This blocks the upper airway and airflow stops or is greatly reduced. It is typically a chronic condition that increases the risk of other medical conditions such as high blood pressure and heart disease.

There is a high lack of awareness about the disease, with a growing percentage of the Australian population suffering from Sleep Apnoea without knowing it. The three main types include:

  • OBSTRUCTIVE SLEEP APNOEA (OSA)– this is the most common condition in which the throat and airway collapses during sleep, blocking air from reaching your lungs
  • CENTRAL SLEEP APNOEA (CSA)– this is a less common condition, where the area of the brain that controls breathing does not properly send signals to the respiratory muscles, causing pauses in breathing
  • MIXED SLEEP APNOEA – this is a combination of both obstructive sleep apnoea and central sleep apnoea

The impact on society can be significant, with Sleep Apnoea attributed to lack of productivity at work, relationship breakdowns and even death caused by falling asleep at inappropriate times.

How do you know you have Sleep Apnoea?

Symptoms of Sleep Apnoea can include the following:

  • Loud snoring
  • Pauses in breathing while sleeping
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Weight gain
  • Memory loss
  • Poor judgment
  • Lethargy
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Disturbances in breathing
  • Waking up tired or drowsy
  • Morning headaches
  • Limited attention
  • Depression and mood changes
  • Personality changes

Sleep studies

One of the most common methods of diagnosing Sleep Apnoea is through a sleep study, in which patients’ sleep patterns and habits are monitored throughout the night.

Patients can now undertake a sleep study at home rather than having to spend the night at a specialist sleep clinic.

Once a sleep study has been completed and a diagnosis issued, Absolute Sleep works with Sleep Apnoea sufferers to determine the most appropriate treatment.

And if you have already tried CPAP treatment but not liked the experience, there are other viable alternatives including oral treatments.