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The essential elements of life are pretty straightforward. We can count them on one hand with a finger to spare: Food, water, shelter and rest.

With 99.8% of TV shows devoted to cooking or home renovations, and with the sales of sugary drinks declining as fast as sales of bottled water are increasing, we seem to have the first three covered. The one that still needs some attention, is rest.

Many Australians aren’t getting enough sleep. Not the good stuff anyway. They are sufferers of sleep apnoea. Basically, it’s a closing of the airway during sleep where breathing stops (a mini choke) which then partially and briefly wakes them. As this can happen more than 50 times during the night, they never reach a normal level of sleep.

Describing apnoea-affected sleep as ‘not the good stuff’, is an understatement. It’s more accurately down-right harmful. There are serious, potentially fatal implications. It sounds dramatic, but poor sleep means less oxygenated blood, and it’s blood that serves every organ of the body, including the brain.

Apart from regaining a vitality during the day, treating sleep apnoea can improve your health in the following crucial ways1 :

Reduced stroke & heart disease

Hypertension is almost three times higher in those with apnoea sleep disturbances, with stroke incidence over four times as likely.

Reduced risk of depression

The rate of depression is more than doubled for those with severe sleep disturbances.

Lower risk of mortality

The risk of dying from any comorbidities is three times higher in those with severe sleep apnoea.

Lower risk of cancer

Sufferers have a higher rate of cancer, most commonly colorectal, prostate, lung and breast.

So who is the ‘they’ who aren’t getting what their body needs?

Given multiple studies report sleep apnoea affects approximately 10-12% of the population (around 2M Australians), if you’ve been told you snore or you don’t feel refreshed and recharged in the morning, there’s a good chance the ‘they’ includes you.

Please talk to your doctor about your sleep concerns.

1 Sources The Wisconsin Sleep Cohort Study (WSCH) The American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, The Lancet August 2019

This article was made in partnership with NSW CPAP.

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