February 24, 2008

A new metaphor for untreated sleep apnea

Imagine a pebble dropped into a pond...what happens is an expanding concentric circle from where the pebble touched the water.

I am beginning to understand untreated sleep apnea in this way: an expanding circle of misery.

It begins with the individual, the lack of restorative sleep from the frequent arousals caused by the apneic events results in excessive daytime sleepiness. The frequent arousals can result in a spikes in blood pressure resulting in hypertension. The apneic events can cause oxygen destaturation which can result in cognitive deficits.

The circle expands to affecting the bedpartner and the family. The bedpartner experiences lack of restorative sleep due to concern over the pauses in breathing or the sound of loud snoring. Increased irritability from lack of sleep can result in conflict in the family. In extreme cases, this can tear the family apart.

The circle expands further affecting the workplace. A sleep deprived employee is less productive due to lack of focus, more prone to accidents and injuries. People with untreated sleep apnea have higher utilization of the healthcare system and increase healthcare.

The circle of misery at its largest point affects the larger community and society as a whole. Sleepy drivers are more likely to have automobile accidents. A number of major industrial accidents, whose impact extended far beyond the confines of the plant were attributed to excessive daytime sleepiness.

March 6th is Sleep Apnea Awareness Day... check your snore score and if necessary talk to your doctor.

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