The person may suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) if he or she wakes up often in the night, snores loudly, gasps for air while asleep or has frequent headaches in the morning. OSA occurs when the tongue and throat muscles relax while you’re sleeping. This creates an obstruction, blocking airflow and causing breathing to slow or even stop.
“Every time you start to get deep, restful sleep, it’s as if someone shakes you a bit,” says Paul Abbott, director, Humana Clinical Best Practices. “Your brain is kicking you up to a lighter stage of sleep so you’ll re-engage and start breathing again.”
A sleep study will let you know if your loved one has OSA. It can be done in the home using a small machine that tracks oxygen levels, airflow and heart rate, or at an overnight sleep clinic. An in-home sleep test can be shipped directly to you. This makes it more convenient for you and more comfortable for your loved one. A home sleep study also can be more accurate.
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- Family history of OSA
- High blood pressure
- Over 40
- Large neck size (17 inches or more in men; 16 inches or more in women)
- Small airways in your nose, throat and mouth
- Enlarged tonsils