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Why am I unable to wake up after sleeping for 7 to 9 hours?

Q: I am a 25 years old male suffering from sleep apnoea for the past four years. I am overweight and I smoke also. For the last four years, I have been taking sleeping pills. I sleep for more than 12 hours daily. I am unable to get up early in the morning. However, I am getting worried because I don't think the sleeping pills are working anymore. I do set alarms, but the problem remains unchanged. Last night, I went to sleep at 11:30 pm and woke up next day in the afternoon at 2:30 pm. Why am I unable to wake up after a normal sleep cycle of 7 to 9 hours?

A:Individuals with sleep apnoea have breathing abnormalities (apnoea, hypopnoea, and respiratory effort related arousals) during sleep with associated transient drop in blood oxygen saturation and transient awakenings. As a result it leads to poor quality of sleep and could affect other end organs (heart, brain etc.). Several studies have documented significant long-term consequences of untreated sleep apnoea such as increased risk of hypertension, myocardial infarction, stroke, heart rhythm abnormalities, possible metabolic disturbances (abnormalities in insulin / glucose regulation) and affects cognitive and mental abilities. It is possible that more severe the degree of sleep apnoea, more likely the chances of these complications. Additionally, another important finding has been increased chances of such complications in younger males. As a result of all these it not only leads to significant impairment in day-to-day to life (work / social), but also can lead to several health complications. Prominent symptoms of sleep apnoea include snoring, pauses in breathing during sleep, unrested sleep, need for more sleep, excessive daytime sleepiness etc. CPAP is probably the most effective currently available treatment option for sleep apnoea. Other options include surgery (UPPP) and dental appliance. Other than these we do not know of any other effective treatment for sleep apnoea. Some medications, particularly sedating (benzodiazepines) and alcohol can exacerbate sleep apnoea. Therefore I strongly recommend that you seek professional help for sleep apnoea and not attempt to treat yourself with sleep medications. Sleeping 7-9 hours or taking any sleep medications may not help with your sleep apnoea.

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