Very little has been known about sleep apnea until relatively recently; it has only just been now reecognised as a condition as such . if you told a doc 15 years ago he bprobably would have drawn you a blank.Perhaps this partly lies in the difficulty in proving one might have it,as symptoms manifest most acute and dramatically during sleep , therfore, typically an overnight stay in a specialist sleep clinic is required to get any firm diagonisis, and even then one has to have 'apneaic episode', as they call it, to be "diagnosed". I know this cos i have met folk who claim they have it but have struggled to get a doc to sit up & listen to them, if you like, even after throwing money at them( i.e sleep clinics or general practioners) , and after many years pursuing this.
I now realise with hindsigh I've too had mild symptoms of it myself in the past having learnt more about this poorly understood condition,but that was when i was on a methadone script(and i've heard that sleep apnea index is higher than average amongst drug abusers/users than the general population ). I would experience a sudden gasping for air in the middle of the night, and be woken as such as a result of this.The body would wake up in attempt to force air in the luungs.. This was, from what i can see ,the autonomic functions that control respiration, shutting down, and i think the depressant effect of the opioids, i took , on the CNS was precipitating this.
The sudden waking and inhalation in the middle of the night is an attempt to stave off oxygen depletion to the brain. The brain obviouslly does not like it-hence t he signal to wake up.
It did'nt bother me too much though it was somehwat alarming at it's very worst, and now i realise what i had were indeed mild symptoms of sleep apnea.I do have a friend who feels his life is seriously affected by this.
My understanding is that there is the mechanical/obstructive cause- or what i've heard termed a prolapsed or floppy epligottis( this maybe because of a loss of muscle/tissue tone in the throat/palatte region, i.e a deformation, though who knows?) And there is also the neurological cause or component to this where i can only presume that the the autonmic functions that control breathing are depressed or dsyfunctional. i think there a lot of western medication prescribed by one's doctor could well predispose one to apneaic symptoms.
You know the guy in 'Sopranos' uses a C-pap machine though he's an aging gangster in a later decade in life so i know that is certainly no consolation.anyway this machine, basically helps to regulate the in-flow and out-flow of breath so if you have an apneaic episode it will pick up on this and resotore a healthier rhythm to the flow
of your breath.
I really do think, like Pandara, that breathing excercises or mindful pranayama, with a teacher , coupled with light gentle asana to help regulate the breath might address this medical problem effectively. I've obviously tried to suggest this prescription to that person that i know but you know what it's like trying to preach to the unconverted.
It'd be nice to see a sleep apnea study using the yoga therapy of breath regulation and control or pranayam coupled with light gentle asana as i am reaaly do think that this may offer a solution to this problem.
It is often associated with the morbidly obese,though you don't have to be, and diagonis is on the increase, now it is becoming more known.
There is a no-nonsense( and i'm led to believe safe if you follow the gradual instructions from start to end)) book on breathing by Carola Speads called 'A Guide to better breathing'. This woman studied the subject for i think about 70 years since the 1920's perhaps, and lived to about 102 or 3 , so she muust have been doing something right. The only problem is i've never read this book.
But if you don't have a pranayama guru living in the neighbourhood, then you might want to check out this book.
Otherwise Anuloma 1 & 2 (google bks iyengar), siimple breath awareness, and then moving patiently on to nadi shodhana( a few rounds with a little retention , perhaps). Employ deep slow full and relaxed breathing and focus on the breath.
i really think learning how to breath again, using regulation techniques and restoring healthy patterns may just help to unscramble the nervous system, one that is either overly depressed, disordered or constantly working through a number of dud loops.
Hope this helps.This is just my perspective on it.
It may not be strictly a sleep disorder( though i guess you could say it is also this too), but a breathing disorder, the way ii see it,, the symptoms manifesting most acutely during sleep, as one is woken up by it, i.e by an apneaic episode..The thing is the autonomic functions of the brain ,that say control breathing, are not meant to go to sleep when you go to sleep, if you get my drift.That is my understanding of this and what ocurs during an apneic episode. The breath in effect stops, involuntarily.So it's like some kind of short-circuit(brain) occurs to rouse one to suddenly wake up .It does occr very frocefully and dramtiically,charctersied at it's worst a huge in-breath of air. It is i gues the moment that breath is restored after some period of suffocation, depending on how long this ensues.
i think the studies sometimes look for changes in heart beat which may i guess mirror and guage the quality and nature of respiration. so if your graph basically is real spikey and not smooth or there are some real spikes in there to indicate oxygen deprivation or episodes.
one can appreciate the implications of all of this ' science' and the percevied issue itself from a pranayama or yoga perspective.
To be honest i have'nt researched it enough to know enough about it but here is a diagram--
I am merely suggessting that it's possible that the neurological component,or cause, may well be frequently overlooked. And it may even be possible that the two-biomechanical(i.e effective windpipe obstruction) and neurologcial causes of sleep apnea( I.e symptoms) are both frequently responsible.Interestingly ,froma 'hanna somatics' perspective they would be both be likely involved within the same bio-feedback loop