Thursday, October 29, 2009

Sleep Fragmentation Linked to Fatigue

For some people, a cup of hot coffee is all they need to wake up in the morning. But for people with sleep apnea, that cup of Joe may not do the trick.

A recent
study in the journal Sleep and Breathing found that sleep fragmentation may contribute to the fatigue that is common in sleep apnea patients.

Sleep-disordered breathing causes a person’s body to stop breathing during sleep. One example, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), occurs when the tissues in the back of the throat relax and collapse, blocking the oxygen flow.

Most pauses in breathing occur for 10 to 30 seconds, but can last for a minute or longer. These breaks can happen hundreds of times a night. When they occur, the brain wakes the body up to breathe. This pattern of arousal causes sleep fragmentation.

The researchers examined how the frequency of arousals impacted fatigue in OSA patients. Specifically, they looked at general, physical and emotional fatigue. Their research did, in fact, link sleep fragmentation to increased fatigue.

The researchers also took into account sleep architecture. This means that they examined the type of sleep each patient experienced. They found that the study participants spent most of their sleep time in lighter sleep stages, like stage one, verses deeper, restorative sleep stages, like REM sleep. This could be another reason the participants felt fatigued.

If you feel fatigued, you may suffer from sleep apnea. You should see a physician and set up a sleep study at an
accredited sleep center near you.

If you are diagnosed with OSA, there are several
treatments for this condition.

Oral appliances are a treatment option provided by dentists. Trained dentists use devices that look like sports mouth guards to help OSA patients breathe more freely at night.
Find-a-Dentist in your area.

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The Official Blog of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM) is intended as an information source only. Content of this blog should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment, and it is not a substitute for medical care, which should be provided by the appropriate health care professional. If you suspect you have a sleep-related breathing disorder, such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), you should consult your personal physician or visit an AASM-accredited sleep disorders center. The AADSM, and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, as the managing agent of the AADSM, assume no liability for the information contained on the Official Blog of the AADSM or for its use.