According to Health Canada “Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that occurs when a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep. People with untreated sleep apnea stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, sometimes hundreds of times. This means the brain — and the rest of the body — may not get enough oxygen.”
As for how prevalent it is in Canada… An estimated 858,900 Canadian adults 18 years and older reported being told by a health professional that they have sleep apnea.
Untreated Sleep Apnea can lead to:
- high blood pressure
- heart attack
- motor vehicle collisions
- decreased sexual function
- work-related injuries
“Treatments are available for Sleep Apnea depending on whether it is mild, moderate or severe. Lifestyle changes and/or mouthpieces may relieve mild sleep apnea. People who have moderate or severe sleep apnea may need breathing devices or surgery.The most common treatment for severe sleep apnea is CPAP or continuous positive airway pressure. CPAP, involves wearing a special mask that keeps the throat open and stops the snoring and pauses in breathing.” The negative being, many patients find the mask uncomfortable, which makes it difficult to sleep until the patient adjusts to the machine. Also it must be worn every night. Another treatment is surgury
For alternative treatments one animal study demonstrated that THC or tetrahydrocannabinol, the chemical that causes the psychoactive effects of cannabis, may be able to combat sleep apnea, by stabilizing breathing during sleep and blocking the serotonin-induced exacerbation of sleep apnea. While many more studies need to be done, this news is welcome news for those suffering from this debilitating sleep disorder and are looking for an alternative to the CPAP machine.