The saying “quality over quantity” applies in a wide range of circumstances — and it is also partially true when it comes to getting a good night’s rest. While adults need to get seven to nine hours of sleep each night (quantity), the quality of that sleep ultimately has a bigger impact than the total number of hours slept.
Part of getting quality sleep requires entering into a phase known as “deep sleep.” Unfortunately, those who have sleep apnea often struggle to get much, if any, deep sleep. To get into deep sleep, you need to stay asleep for an extended period of time. Because sleep apnea can result in dozens of wake-ups each hour of the night, deep sleep can become nearly impossible.
Here’s a closer look at why deep sleep matters, and why those with sleep apnea should make it a priority.
Understanding the Sleep Stages
The stages of sleep begin with light non-REM sleep as your body transitions from a period of wakefulness to being fully asleep. During light sleep, your respiration and heart rate begin to slow, while body temperature drops. Your muscles may still jerk as they begin to relax, which is sometimes enough to jolt you back to wakefulness. During these early stages of light sleep, you are more easily awoken by light or noise. You actually spend roughly half of your time asleep in Stage 2 of light sleep.
Eventually, your body reaches the deep sleep stage of non-REM sleep. This is when your heartbeat, brainwaves, and breathing occur at the slowest rate. Under normal circumstances, it is also extremely difficult to wake up from this phase of sleep.
After about 90 minutes, the body will transition to REM sleep. This is when you dream as your brain activity becomes more wakeful and your eyes move from side to side. After the REM stage concludes, the sleep cycle begins again.
Those who suffer from sleep apnea are often only able to sleep for a few minutes at a time before they are awakened because of a lack of oxygen. Waking up essentially resets the sleep cycle, making it nearly impossible to enjoy deep sleep.
What Happens During Deep Sleep?
As your bodily functions slow down, your body also undergoes several important restorative functions.
Deep sleep allows your brain to flush out “waste” and process the events of the day into short-term and long-term memory. As the brain’s glucose metabolism increases, learning ability improves. The body increases blood flow to the muscles, and cell repair and tissue growth occur.
For children and teenagers in particular, deep sleep is important because it is the phase when the pituitary gland secretes human growth hormone and other hormones crucial to the body’s development.
Getting enough deep sleep leaves you feeling rested and refreshed in the morning — even though deep sleep accounts for as little as 13 to 23 percent of total sleep time. Failure to get enough deep sleep could put you at greater risk for serious medical conditions, such as heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, and diabetes.
What to Do if Sleep Apnea Keeps You From Getting Deep Sleep
Sleep apnea closes off the body’s breathing passages. Your brain detects the lack of oxygen and essentially forces you to wake up (often gasping for breath) so you can start breathing again.
As surprising as it may seem, most people with sleep apnea don’t even remember these incidents the next day. They wake up and fall back asleep again so quickly that they may think they had a full seven hours of uninterrupted sleep — even if they still feel completely exhausted.
Quite often, it is a spouse who notices their loved one gasping for breath, snoring loudly, or making choking noises during the night. When these symptoms are present and paired with extreme fatigue, sleep apnea is quite likely the culprit. If you suspect you have sleep apnea or another sleep disorder, you should schedule a consultation with a sleep specialist.
These professionals will typically refer patients to an overnight sleep study, during which their breathing, heart rate, and brain patterns are monitored during rest. This allows sleep specialists to determine if you have sleep apnea, and diagnose its severity. Using this information, they can write a prescription for a CPAP machine.
A CPAP machine directly counteracts sleep apnea by providing a steady flow of pressurized air throughout the night. The constant airflow keeps your breathing passages open, preventing the blockages that cause you to wake up. By using a CPAP machine and a properly fitting face mask, you can avoid sleep interruptions and get the deep sleep your body needs to feel truly rested and recovered.
Get the CPAP Equipment You Need Today
A quality CPAP machine can make all the difference in helping you improve both the quantity and quality of your sleep. Of course, the cost of CPAP equipment can sometimes appear to be a major obstacle, particularly for those who don’t have health insurance, or whose health insurance doesn’t fully cover the costs.
This is where No Insurance Medical Supplies comes in. With discounted prices on CPAP equipment from top brands like Fisher and Paykel, ResMed, and more, you can get the treatment you need at a price you can afford. Available financing can make your equipment even more affordable.
Don’t wait to start enjoying the deep sleep your body needs. Place your order today so you can sleep better and feel your best.