Bodybuilding and Sleep Apnea - Why you need a CPAP

Bodybuilding and sleep apnea header

Bodybuilding and Sleep Apnea Symptoms

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder characterised by pauses in breathing during sleep. It can be caused by a narrowed airway, a blockage in the airway, or an obstructed airway.

Sleep apnea is an increasingly common health concern that affects the lives of more than 18 million Americans each year. It is estimated that more than 50% of children are affected by this disorder at some point in their lives.

The most common symptom of sleep apnea is snoring, which causes significant disruption and discomfort to the person sleeping next to them.

Sleep Apnea Diagram

The Different Types of Sleep Apnea

There are four types of sleep apnea: obstructive, central, mixed and complex.

Obstructive sleep apnea is characterised by a complete blockage of the upper respiratory tract while you sleep. This type of apnea is caused by an anatomical obstruction and is the most common form of sleep apnea.

Central sleep apnea is characterised by a complete blockage of the lower respiratory tract while you sleep. This type of apnea is caused by a neurological obstruction, which makes it harder for the brain to send signals to breathe.

Mixed sleep apnea exhibits symptoms that are usually present in both central and obstructive sleep apnea. This type of apnea is caused by both types of obstructions happening at the same time.

Complex sleep apnea is caused by obstructions in the throat and nose that prevent breathing, resulting in hyperventilation and too much CO2.

This can be the result of falls or blows to the head that cause injury to the brain, causing impulses from different parts of the brain to not work together anymore.

Another form of complex sleep apnea is a blockage of an airway in one lung, making it difficult for oxygenated blood to flow. This can lead to a build-up of carbon dioxide in the blood and therefore a buildup of acidity.

When this happens, the diaphragm on the otherwise blocked side will not be able to help keep the other lung inflated. The oxygenated blood in that lung will therefore go back into the body, which will trigger the fight-or-flight response, causing the heart to pump faster and harder.

In addition, the blood pressure in that lung will go up and down as it is being inflated and deflated. . This will cause extra strain on the heart and leave it vulnerable to arrhythmias.

Why do People with Sleep Apnea Struggle with Bodybuilding?

Bodybuilding is a fairly straightforward science You go to the gym to activate the muscles and cause micro-tears within them. You then eat to fuel the recovery and adaptation of those muscles.

Your muscles recover, repair and adapt whilst you are in deep REM sleep. If you do not get good sleep, your body will not trigger the growth hormones required for hypertrophy and it will all be a waste of time.

This is why sleep is important for bodybuilders. Not just napping or light snoozing, you need to have deep REM sleep.

If you suffer from sleep apnea, your brain will not go into deep REM sleep as it is constantly woken up throughout the night every time your heart stops.

This not only has a negative effect on the ability to gain muscle. It can leave you feeling very tired, lethargic and moody the following day which can have a negative effect on your training.

Sleep apnea also causes a lack of oxygen in the brain, which leads to an increase in carbon dioxide in the blood.

This increase in carbon dioxide leads to a decrease in blood pH and an increase in CO2 levels which causes the muscles to relax and not be able to contract properly.

More sleep = more muscle growth

There are a few key factors that lead to sleep apnea and bodybuilding problems.

1) The most important factor for sleep apnea is an obstructed airway when sleeping, this can be anything from a mouth breathing habit to nasal congestion.

2) If you have sleep apnea and also take certain medications such as asthma medications, antidepressants or benzodiazepines you may experience increased and unnecessary sleepiness.

3) Most people with sleep apnea are overweight, so the extra weight on your abdomen will naturally cause nasal obstruction and decreased airflow.

4) Sleep apnea is one of the many symptoms associated with narcolepsy where your brain doesn't send the right signals to your body that it's time to fall asleep and when you try to sleep the brain signals are not clear. Another symptom of narcolepsy is sleeping with your limbs in a state of a constant movement called cataplexy, which is why many patients report having episodes where they collapse without warning or control during their sleep cycle.

5) Sleep apnea also causes snoring. This is not really going to cause any health problems but can put a huge strain on relationships with anybody whom you share a bed, a house or even a street with!

What are the Symptoms of Sleep Apnea in Bodybuilders?

Sleep apnea can lead to serious consequences for bodybuilders. It can cause excessive daytime sleepiness and poor athletic performance because it makes it difficult for them to focus during workouts.

Not only is there a negative effect on workouts. There is also the negative effect on muscle repair and adaptation which usually happens at night when we are in deep REM sleep.

We release the majority of our natural growth hormones when we are in deep REM sleep and with sleep apnea, we do not get this REM sleep.

This lack of hormone release will result in minimal muscle gains which can lead to a loss of enthusiasm for working out in the first place.

If you are a bodybuilder, strength trainer or any other athlete, see a professional that can prescribe a CPAP machine for you and it will change your life.

You will feel better, train harder and see much better results.

Symptoms of sleep apnea

How to Get the Most Out of Your Sleep with a CPAP Machine

The CPAP machine is one of the most common devices used to help people with OSA breathe more easily. It works by gently pressurising air into a person’s sleeping area. This pressure helps them to breathe easier and prevents them from snoring and gasping for air while they sleep.

The device was first developed for those who had complications after surgery but has since been used for people with OSA as well. It is also called a "continuous positive airway pressure machine" or a "CPAP."

Some people use the CPAP machine to help them sleep at night, while others use it throughout the day to prevent episodes of apnea from waking them up.

A person with OSA is usually diagnosed by a doctor or sleep specialist, who will look at their snoring and sleeping patterns to determine if the person has a form of sleep-disordered breathing.

This may be done by questioning them, performing an overnight sleep study, or using an electrocardiogram to measure the heart's electrical activity during sleep.

CPAP machines are not a form of treatment for sleep apnea, but they can be used to help the person get a good night's sleep. Currently, there is no cure for sleep apnea, but treatments such as surgery, CPAP, and continuous positive airway pressure are available.

CPAP machines and continuous positive airway pressure therapy can be used to help reduce symptoms. There are also lifestyle changes that may help treat the condition such as losing a lot of weight or quitting smoking.

Why do Bodybuilders Struggle With Sleep Apnea?

The truth is that both bodybuilders and weightlifters can develop sleep apnea, but the causes are different.

Bodybuilders struggle with sleep apnea because they have a very high percentage of muscle mass and their muscles consume a lot of oxygen during exercise. This makes it difficult for them to breathe at night, which leads to snoring and OSA.

Another cause is the amount of heavy muscle mass around the neck and the trapezius muscle at the top of the back. This can put pressure on the airways causing them to become too narrow whilst you sleep.

This is why it is important for a sleep doctor to do a thorough evaluation that includes all of these variables.

CPAP with nasal pillows

Conclusion: Start Using a CPAP Machine Today to Improve Your Health & Performance

Bodybuilder, strength trainer or neither, if you suspect you have sleep apnea, go and see a doctor. Leaving it untreated can have a hugely detrimental effect on your heart health as well as your quality of life.

Ask your partner if you often stop breathing while you are sleeping or if you are a loud snorer. A sleep study is very unintrusive and can identify the severity of sleep apnea. It also helps a specialist to set up a CPAP machine so that you can get the best night's sleep possible.

A CPAP machine is not a great look but modern machines are much smaller, very quiet and the nasal pillows are not as bad as the full-face masks that they used to come with.

From personal experience, we would strongly urge anybody that suspects that they have the condition to get checked out and get a CPAP machine. If you live in the UK, they are free on the NHS and they will change your life!

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