Awake to Wellness: Understanding and Managing Sleep Apnoea 

December 2023

Do you suffer from snoring, and feel tired and groggy when you wake up? You could be suffering from sleep apnoea.

Sleep apnoea is a condition that causes you to stop breathing while you are sleeping. It happens if your airways become too narrow causing frequent interruptions in your breathing. The word “apnoea” originates from the Greek word for “breathless.” 

Most people who have sleep apnoea experience symptoms like loud snoring and daytime sleepiness. But sleep apnoea does more than make you sleepy. It can increase your risk of heart attack and stroke, especially if it is severe enough and left untreated for a long time. It can also increase your chance of having high blood pressure, diabetes and other long-term health risks.


Because sleep apnoea can cause you to wake up repeatedly throughout the night, it can have a huge impact on your psychological health. Experts say it is the single most preventable medical cause of excessive daytime sleepiness and driving accidents. And because sleep apnoea occurs when you’re unconscious, often you are not even aware that you have it, until someone who lives with you notices. 

Some of the symptoms of sleep apnoea include: 

  • Poor quality sleep due to stopping breathing during sleep 
  • Loud snoring  
  • Gasping for air
  • Feeling sleepy and fatigued during the day 
  • Falling asleep while sitting, reading, watching television or driving?
  • Dry mouth and headaches on waking
  • Poor concentration, poor memory and slow reaction times
  • Irritability and mood changes
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Impotence and reduced libido 
  • Frequent night-time bathroom visits 

Treatment for sleep apnoea includes certain lifestyle changes, the use of devices, or surgery, when all else fails.

There are some practical lifestyle changes you can make to help you cope with this sleep disorder including:

  • Changing sleeping position. Sleeping on your side may help reduce symptoms from sleep apnoea. There are a number of devices you can buy to keep you on your side, including pillows and belts.
  • Cutting back on your alcohol intake and quitting smoking  
  • If you are overweight or obese, maintaining a moderate weight can improve your sleep apnoea and possibly cure it
  • Following a good sleep regime

In addition to lifestyle changes, the most effective treatment available for sleep apnoea is ‘nasal continuous positive airway pressure’ (CPAP). CPAP is a non-invasive treatment and uses a small pump that blows air through tubing into a mask that is worn at night on your nose and/or mouth. This air pressure goes into the back of the throat holding it open, even if the throat muscles have relaxed too much during sleep.

A popular alternative to CPAP is an oral device that resembles a mouth guard. It works by keeping your tongue and jaw in a forward position, which keeps your airway open while you sleep.

If you are feeling persistently tired or groggy during the day, it’s important that you consult your doctor for a diagnosis and treatment options. Your doctor may refer you to a sleep specialist for a sleep study. This involves sleeping overnight at a sleep centre to be monitored, while special equipment records your brain waves, eye and leg movements, oxygen levels, airflow, and heart rhythm. 
At Allianz Partners, we are committed to keep you well. Whether you need help, advice or support, our Helpline is here for you 24/7. Contact us today.