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Sleep Week on 11Alive: Sleep apnea

1:05 PM, May 9, 2011   |    comments
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ATLANTA -- Reggie White, John Candy, and Jerry Garcia all lost their lives in association with a sleep disorder called sleep apnea.

It's estimated that as many as 18 million Americans share the condition, which is far more common, than understood.

"Sleep Apnea defined means the complete stoppage or sensation of air flow, usually in the form of obstruction sleep apnea when the air collapses so much that no air is moving," said Dr. Michael Lacey with Atlanta Sleep Medicine Clinic. "Then the pattern will start all over again."

Lacey said this interruption in sleep can take place up to 150 times per hour leaving a person feeling very tired after thinking they've had a full night's rest.

The condition varies from mild, which may require wearing a mouth guard or CPAP machine to provide steady air while sleeping, to the very severe, which could involve surgery.

Sleep apnea occurs in all age groups and both sexes, but it's more common in men.

Heavy snoring and struggles to breathe during sleep are the most obvious symptoms, often detected by a spouse.

"Probably up to 75 percent of people with sleep apnea remain undiagnosed," Lacey said.

Doctors will often refer patients to a sleep lab for an overnight sleep test for a diagnoses. Using a myriad of wires and a camera that records every movement, the test records a variety of body functions including electrical activity in the brain, eye movement, muscle activity, heart rate, respiratory effort, air flow, and blood oxygen levels. 

Since 11Alive meteorologist Chesley McNeil's wife occassionally complains about his "apparent" snoring, he decided to get tested. See how he did in the video above. 

All week long, the 11Alive morning team will bring you stories and solutions on sleep.

You can watch their Sleep Week stories live each weekday through Thursday at about 6:45 a.m. on 11Alive News Today and find them online at 11Alive.com/mornings.

For more details on sleep disorders and treatments, visit Atlanta Sleep Medicine Clinic's website.

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