Breathe Easy This Spring

Ah, spring! We all know someone who spends this season fighting allergies and asthma. While there are plenty of ways to find daytime relief, we tend to neglect breathing problems that occur during sleep. In fact, allergies, asthma and smoking increase the likelihood of an entire group of conditions known as Sleep Disordered Breathing (SDB). SDB can make your body, and brain, feel just as miserable as during the day as asthma and allergies do. Worse even!

Sleep and Breathing

Because the body and mind require quality, uninterrupted sleep to repair tissues and replenish chemicals, the feeling of rest that we depend on in the morning depends itself on how well we were breathing the night before.

Don’t Ignore the Snore

Your upper airway, which runs from your nose to your voice box is largely held open by muscles during the day, which prevents you from snoring while awake at work. When you’re asleep, and especially when dreaming, these muscles relax partially, resulting in airway collapse. A mild collapse results in snoring, an increase in the effort required to inhale and direct stress on the heart, lungs and large arteries of the chest and neck.

Sleep Apnea

Full collapse of the airway can prevent all breathing for a short time as the body struggles to inhale. As the amount of oxygen in the blood drops, the brain rouses itself from deep sleep in order to restart a normal breathing rhythm. This can occur hundreds of times each night. Eventually, this lack of deep sleep, and extra wear and tear on the body, can add up. The result? A number of serious medical issues, including diabetes, obesity, dementia, stroke and cardiovascular disease.

Symptoms of Sleep Disordered Breathing

  • Pauses in breathing during sleep
  • Loud snoring, choking or gasping during sleep
  • Memory, learning and concentration problems
  • Mood swings, irritability or depression

How Healthy is Your Sleep?

Find out using our simple sleep calculator:

Having Trouble Sleeping?

Contact the SleepCharge Participant Resource Center at or 1-877-615-7527.

Brigham & Women’s Hospital
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
Harvard Medical School