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The NFL is taking on the opponent of sleep apnea (photo credit: BigStockPhoto.com)

The NFL is taking on the opponent of sleep apnea (photo credit: BigStockPhoto.com)

Sleep apnea can be a silent killer and yet millions of Americans continue to fall asleep every night and wake up tired every morning not knowing that they are suffering from this sleep disorder While the immediate risk of going undiagnosed is small, the symptoms and cumulative impact of leaving this disorder untreated can be serious.  In an effort to spread awareness about sleep apnea and encourage people to seek medical care if they are struggling to get the sleep they need, Pro Player Health Alliance (PPHA) and several football legends are teaming up and Tackling Sleep Apnea.

As part of their offensive play, NFL players, former players, and members of the PPHA will be traveling the country to help spread awareness about sleep apnea and educate the public on its signs, symptoms, and consequences.  In various areas, fans will have the opportunity to come, meet the participating players, and learn about how sleep apnea has impacted their lives.  The Tackling Sleep Apnea events are free and will be hosted by the PPHA.

 

Sleep Apnea Signs and Symptoms

One of the most noticeable symptoms of sleep apnea is snoring.  Many people who snore suffer from this disorder and do not realize it.  Sleep Apnea also causes excessive daytime sleepiness and those with the disorder will find themselves nodding off at inappropriate times and struggling to stay awake throughout the day regardless of how much sleep they are getting at night.  This sleepiness also causes impaired judgment, drowsy driving, difficulty paying attention, and reduced reaction times.  It is easy to see from this list why having sleep apnea is a big deal for an NFL Player and for everyone else.

Sleep apnea can be sneaky because it doesn’t make it hard to fall asleep, it doesn’t wake you up, and unless you sleep with someone who notices these symptoms, you may not realize you have them at all.  This is one of the reasons that spreading awareness is so important.

 

Anyone Can Have Sleep Apnea

While there is an association between overweight or obese and having sleep apnea, it can actually affect anyone regardless of their body size or fitness level.  Helping people understand who it affects and how it affects them is part of the Tackling Sleep Apnea initiative.

 

Diagnosing Sleep Apnea

If you think you or someone you know may be suffering from sleep apnea, talk to your doctor about your symptoms.  This is an important first step because it enables your doctor to look at your sleep and your health as a more complete picture.  If he or she feels that the symptoms you describe may indicate sleep apnea, they will refer you to a sleep testing facility or a sleep doctor for testing and diagnosis.  They can also determine if your sleep struggles may be the result of an underlying medical condition, the side effect of a medication you are taking, or if there are other things that need to be tested or investigated.

For more information about Sleep Apnea, visit the National Sleep Foundation.

For more details on the Tackling Sleep Apnea initiative and to find an event near you, visit the Pro Player Health Alliance site.