Sitting Directly Linked to Sleep Apnea

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Sleep apnea is a common disorder that will cause a person to wake up 100-300 times per night due to blockage of the airway. The soft tissue in the back of the throat collapses, blocking the airway. Normal sleep will resume, but usually after a person exerts a loud snort, or choking sound. This disorder is one of the leading causes for daytime sleepiness. When airways are cut off or even constricted, a person will fall out of a deep sleep and into a lighter one. The deeper a sleep, the better quality it is for the person.

Even if you do not suffer from sleep apnea, sitting can have adverse effects on your health. Many adults in today’s world find themselves sitting down more and coming less active. Whether we are glued to the TV after work or if you sit down as a part of your daily work routine, you are not allowing yourself the best sleep possible. Dr. Douglas Bradley, Director of the Centre for Sleep Medicine and Circadian Biology at the University of Toronto, wondered why non-obese patients were developing sleep apnea disorders, so he investigated.

Sleep apnea is a common disorder in obese men and women. The disproportionate sizes of an overweight person’s tonsils, tongue, as well as fat on the neck are obstructive to a person’s airway. Studies have shown that weight loss is one option to help alleviate sleep apnea. Is it possible that a brief walk around the house can also help fight against this silent killer, sleep apnea?

The study Dr. Bradley conducted concluded that when a person sits for extended periods of time, fluids will build up in a person’s legs. When that person goes to lay down later on, gravity will redistribute those fluids, a majority of which usually finds its way to the neck. The fluids begin to gather in the neck causing it to expand, in turn constricting the airway. The more fluid a person has retained in their legs that is distributed during the night, means a greater frequency of apneas during the night.

Walking may seem like an unlikely treatment to some, but, to people who suffer from sleep apnea, this may be exactly what they have been searching for. The retention of fluid in your legs is due to inactivity for a prolonged period of time. Standing up and taking a brief walk will break up the retained fluids, spreading them out due to the activity of you muscles and the pumping of blood and fluids through your body.

The team of researchers who conducted this study also had the sleep apnea patients wear compressed socks to reduce the flow of fluids from the legs. The results the researchers had seen from the use of these compressed socks, as well as measuring the circumference of the calves and necks before and after sleep, were very interesting.

So give it a try, integrate a couple short walks into your daily routine and see if the quality of your sleep improves.

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