It’s a common misconception that sleep apnea is nothing more than a snoring problem. But in reality, sleep apnea is a dangerous, potentially even deadly disorder that impacts everything from your daily routines to your life expectancy.
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that causes the sleeper’s airway to become obstructed, stopping breathing. Some sleep apnea sufferers stop breathing hundreds of times per night. This prevents the body from getting as much air as it needs, and also disrupts deep sleep, resulting in daytime fatigue and troubles with focus and memory. On top of all that, people with sleep apnea have also been found to have increased risk of stroke, hypertension, and even heart failure.
The worst part is that many people with sleep apnea go undiagnosed and untreated. Luckily, a new app might be able to help change that.
Meet the ApneaApp
It seems like there’s an app for everything lately. From mobile games designed for your cat to the unapologetically named tracking app “Places I’ve Pooped,” the only surprise should be that a sleep apnea app wasn’t developed before now.
The doctors at the University of Washington Medicine Sleep Center are working to fill that need with the ApneaApp. To use the app, all the user has to do is place their smartphone, with the app opened, beside their bed before sleeping. While they sleep, the app will emit sonar signals modulated to specific frequencies to detect the user’s body’s movements and use them to track their breathing.
The app will then compare these breathing records to algorithms developed by the University of Washington team to identify sleep apnea events. It can even differentiate between different types of events, like obstructive apnea, where the airway completely closes, or hypopnea, which is abnormally slow or shallow breathing.
While the app itself cannot diagnose sleep apnea, its goal is to provide a method of screening oneself to determine if an appointment with a doctor for a sleep test is necessary. The release date hasn’t been announced yet, but the app is currently pending approval from the Food and Drug Administration.
Do You Have Sleep Apnea?
Until the app is available, there are other ways to self-screen for sleep apnea to figure out if you should make an appointment with a sleep doctor.
A partner, family member, or even an overnight audio recording can tell you if you’re snoring, which is a hallmark symptom of sleep apnea. This is particularly true if the snoring ends with a gurgling or choking sound, or wakes you up.
But while snoring is a major symptom, it’s far from the only one. There are plenty of symptoms you can recognize once you’re awake.
- Feeling unrested, as if you didn’t sleep well
- Daytime fatigue
- Falling asleep easily during sedentary activities, like watching TV
- Lack of focus and memory