Sleep apnoea: as Roman Kemp reveals he’s been diagnosed with the condition, what is it?

·2-min read
(Alamy/PA)
(Alamy/PA)

Stopping breathing in your sleep sounds terrifying, but it’s actually more common than you’d think.

Ever heard your partner snoring and then suddenly jolt themselves awake in the middle of a dream feeling panicky? A condition called sleep apnoea could be causing it.

Sleep apnoea is quite common and usually caused due to a physical obstruction in the upper airways, when the muscles in the back of your throat, right by your tonsils, relax.

This week Capital Radio DJ Roman Kemp revealed he had been diagnosed with the condition and now has to wear an oxygen mask to sleep. He told the Daily Mail : “My tiredness levels were debilitating, and they said to me it was because of my job and I said this is different.

“I was talking with people where I thought I was verging on narcolepsy because I was mid conversation and would be snoring and not realising, it was very strange.”

What are the symptoms of sleep apnoea?

Sleep apnoea refers to when you repeatedly stop breathing in your sleep.

Symptoms can include sleepiness the next day, waking up with a dry mouth, chronic snoring (ask your partner), morning headaches and waking up gasping for air.

In severe cases, dramatic snorting, choking or gasping in the night can significantly disrupt sleep patterns and make deep REM sleep almost impossible.

Can sleep apnoea be treated?

It can be a nerve-wracking diagnosis, but the good news is there are a number of ways to alleviate or reverse the condition.

If you suspect you could be suffering from sleep apnoea, the first thing to do is go and see a doctor. They may recommend a home sleep test, where they test and measure your heart rate, oxygen flow, airflow and breathing patterns.

Risk factors for contracting sleep apnoea include lifestyle factors like obesity, smoking and hayfever. Being middle aged and male can also increase your risk of sleep apnoea. For milder cases, your doctor may recommend a heart-healthy diet rich in pulses, berries, olive oil and wholegrains. Obviously quitting smoking is non-negotiable and limiting alcohol consumption recommendable.

If dietary and lifestyle changes don’t help, doctors might recommend sleeping with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy, a mask that keeps the airways open by gently providing a constant stream of positive pressure air up the nose, and in some cases, surgery may be needed to reposition the jaw or remove any tissue obstruction up the nose.

For more information on the condition, visit the Sleep Apnoea Trust sleep-apnoea-trust.org

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