Updated: Nov 2, 2021
Is it possible that you aren’t getting enough oxygen while you sleep?
What happens when you aren’t getting enough oxygen to your cells and tissue?
How do you know if you are getting enough oxygen while you sleep?
How do you increase your oxygen levels?
These are the questions we’ll be answering in this article.
Am I Getting Enough Oxygen While I Sleep?
Do you wake up gasping or choking for breath?
Do you wake up with a dry mouth or sore throat?
Do you snore?
Has a partner or spouse noticed episodes where you stop breathing in your sleep?
Do you have a morning headache?
Are you tired during the day?
Do you have difficulties concentrating?
These are all signs of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Did you answer yes to any of these questions? OSA can result in lower levels of oxygen in your blood. When your oxygen levels drop in your blood from OSA, you can also have intermittent hypoxia, where your cells and tissue don’t get enough oxygen during your periods of obstructive breathing.
What Happens When I’m Not Getting Enough Oxygen to My Cells and Tissue?
Hypoxia is when you don’t get enough oxygen to your cells and tissues, and research tells us that it induces mast cell degranulation (1).
Mast cell degranulation can be at the root of all those symptoms you are struggling with. Since everyone’s mast cell symptoms look so different from one another, the way that this lack of oxygen impacts you can look very different from one person to the next.
Is it possible that your mast cell activation is from sleep apnea?
Or maybe your sleep apnea is the result of mast cell activation?
It is another one of those chicken & egg scenarios. Which came first? Regardless of which came first, it is important to break the cycle by addressing both the mast cell activation and the sleep apnea.
We’re here to help you with the dietary management of mast cells, so check out all our resources for help.
How Do I Know If I’m Getting Enough Oxygen?
Talk to your doctor about getting a sleep study done. There are different versions of testing, so your doctor can help you make the best choice based on your symptoms.
There are some at-home tests, as well as overnight monitoring at a sleep centre. The tests done at sleep centres provide more detailed information.
The home versions usually measure heart rate, blood oxygen, airflow and breathing. At a sleep centre you will additionally have brain activity, and arm and leg movements monitored. The brain activity is useful if you have a type of sleep apnea that is not obstructive in nature, but rather involves periods of respiratory effort-related arousal (RERA). This type of sleep apnea will still lead to disrupted sleep, and daytime sleepiness, but doesn’t result in lower blood oxygen levels.
Both tests will tell you if your blood oxygen levels are low.
Do you think sleep apnea could be contributing to your mast cell activation? Sleep apnea is a huge stressor on your body, and needs to be addressed. Severe sleep apnea puts you at increased risk for heart disease and stroke (2), so it is important to discuss this with your doctor.
How Do I Increase My Oxygen Levels?
Your doctor might suggest one or more of these options:
Weight loss (extra weight in the neck area can narrow your airway)
A positive airway pressure machine:
CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure)
BPAP (bilateral positive airway pressure)
ASV (adaptive servo-ventilation)
Oral appliance to keep your throat open
Both our Mavens have sleep apnea.
Luka has long had a history of snoring, and keeping her honey awake at night. She often wakes up in the middle of the night, gasping for air! She is working on getting to the root of things, and starting to put a plan in place to help address this problem.
Tracey is getting jaw repositioning surgery to open her airway. As scary as this seems, it is an important step to address what’s at the root of her Mast Cell Activation Syndrome. She has the RERA type of apnea, and never would have known without a study at a sleep centre. She is excited at the idea of getting a good night’s sleep for the first time in her life!
Let's keep talking about this
Keep your eyes open for more information on this topic. In the new year we’ll be focusing on the well-researched reasons why you have MCAS. We’ll take a detailed look at why you might have sleep apnea in the first place. The research tells us some super cool stuff!
This information is for educational purposes only. Consult your doctor if you are struggling with ongoing fatigue or suspect you have sleep apnea.
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