Living is a disease from which sleep gives us relief eight hours a day. -Chamfort
This 18th century French philosopher understood the importance of quality sleep!
One of the principal functions of sleep is to clean up and detoxify our bodies, minds and brain from the demands of the day. In our deep sleep (also known as Delta wave sleep) we become comatose and literally shut off from the external world. The muscles relax, the blood pressure drops, heart rate slows down. Growth and other hormones get released to repair our cells.
The other deep part of sleep that is vital to our health is the REM stage of sleep. This stage cycles throughout the night getting longer and more frequent as the night goes on. The heartbeat quickens, the eyes flutter rapidly and the brain waves resemble the waves of an awake person. The muscles are relaxed. The purpose of REM sleep is thought to be the removal of toxic proteins that build up in the brain during the day. This way the brain can be ready the next day to acquire new memories and information.
If you look at the paragraph above you will see that the muscles in both stages of sleep are relaxed, including the muscles that hold your airway open. This means that if you have a breathing disorder that happens while you sleep, your body cannot protect itself to make sure that the airway stays open!
This is where you get woken up (you are probably not even aware) because you can’t breathe and you are literally suffocating.
On options for treating this unfortunate disorder, please return for a continuation of this blog.