Being Chronically Tired Can Cost You Big Time

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Are you chronically tired and feel fatigued most of the time? Do you have problems sleeping at night or getting a good restful sleep?

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Did you know that your lack of sleep, chronically feeling tired and fatigued could be costing you in more ways than you realize? It could be costing you in lost time at work; cutting days, weeks, months and years off of your life; and it could be costing you your health, safety and wallet.

Many people in today’s hectic world just write off being tired to being a normal part of the busy 24/7 work, business, and entertainment world we live in, but it can be something far more serious than just a busy 24/7 world.

Did you know that there are around or should I say, at least 70 different sleep disorders that could be costing you your vitally needed restful sleep? By far, the most common is Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome (OSA) which is more commonly just referred to as sleep apnea.

“Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a disorder of the respiratory system manifested by repeated cessations of breathing during sleep that can cause arousal from sleep multiple times per hour. In OSA, the upper airways collapse during sleep so as to prevent the movement of air into the lungs. Obstructive Sleep Apnea typically develops with increasing severity over a period of several years.”

“The period of cessation of breathing called ‘apneas’ prevent the oxygenation of the blood in the pulmonary capillaries and, as a result, the arterial blood oxygen levels rapidly fall. Carotid body oxygen sensors detect the drop in oxygen levels, causing an abrupt arousal from sleep and gasping for air before the sufferer falls back into sleep again. Because this pattern can repeat many times per hour, the result of sleep apnea is reduced sleep quality and quantity, leading to chronic sleep deprivation. The effects of sleep deprivation and the repeated episodes of blood deoxygenation affect the neurological and cardiovascular systems.”

In addition to costing you your vitally needed restful and restorative sleep, did you know that undiagnosed sleep apnea cost employers approximately $6,000 a year? Here is a chart that shows the estimated financial and work-related costs of OSA.

There are also a number of health issues caused by excessive daytime sleepiness, much of which could be associated with OSA:

  • 40% increased rate of excessive daytime sleepiness
  • 2 times as many traffic accidents per mile
  • 3 times greater risk of occupational accidents
  • 1.3 to 2.5 times more hypertension
  • 2.2 times increased risk of nocturnal cardiac arrhythmia
  • 3.9 times more likely to have congestive heart failure
  • 1.6 times increased chance of stroke
  • 1.4 to 2.3 times greater risk of heart attack
  • 40% increased risk of depression

There are 10 basic symptoms that could indicate that you may have sleep apnea:

  • Loud snoring – as attested to by others in your house/apartment/condo
  • Interrupted breathing – often noticed by others while you sleep
  • Feeling tired during the day on a regular basis
  • Insomnia – not just the inability to fall asleep, but the inability to stay asleep
  • Moody – lack of restful sleep often leads to mood disorders, short tempers and grouchiness
  • Dry mouth – wake up in the morning of after a sleep with your mouth feeling dry
  • Nighttime urination – if you have to get up and go to the bathroom 2 or more times during any 6-8-hour sleep period
  • Restless sleep – frequent tossing and turning while trying to sleep
  • Loss of sex drive – lack of restful sleep is often associated with a loss of libido and sex life
  • Headaches – often results in morning headaches that some describe as severe

To determine if you have sleep apnea, talk to your doctor. Most healthcare insurance plans cover being tested and treated for sleep apnea. The test is easy – I know – I have gone through it a couple of times as I have sleep apnea. All you have to do is make an appointment at a sleep clinic, arrive in the evening. Allow them to attach sensors to you and then go to sleep. In the morning, you wake up, they take the sensors off and you’re on your way.

Generally, OSA is treatable. The most common method is using a continuous positive airway pressure device (CPAP) while sleeping. Most use a mask that fits over the nose and sometimes also the mouth and then a pressurized airflow is used to prevent the blockage of the airway and keeps the person from frequent stopping in breathing. I used to use a mask over the nose, but now I use what are called nasal pillows. Instead of a mask over the whole nose, the nasal pillows fit over the nasal openings and allows the airflow to work just like the mask.

Some people have problems wearing a mask or using nasal pillows and opt for surgery. A former co-worker went this route. The doctor surgically removed some of the tissue in the back of her mouth and throat that blocked the airflow while sleeping. After recovering from the surgery, her sleep apnea was gone and she doesn’t have to use a mask or nasal pillow.

Some people use dental devices that reposition the lower jaw while sleeping and some have used hypoglossal nerve stimulation which a device is implanted in the chest that controls the hypoglossal nerve which controls tongue movement.

If you undergo a sleep study test and discover that you do not have OSA, it may be possible that you have a different sleep disorder which may also be treatable. You owe it to yourself, your family, your finances and to your employer to seek testing and treatment.

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