GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – According to the American Medical Association, about 36 million people in the U.S. suffer from sleep apnea, but only six million are diagnosed.

Whether you’re wide awake or fast asleep, medical professionals said our bodies are always working.

In an interview with 7NEWS, Dr. Ahmad Boota, a sleep medicine physician at Bon Secours St. Francis, said sleep is vital for healthy brain function and your physical health.

“Adequate sleep is an essential part of health,” said Dr. Boota.

He said lack of consistent sleep for seven to eight hours a night can take a toll on your health. That’s what tends to happen to those who suffer from sleep apnea.

“It effects pretty much everything in your life,” Dr. Boota explained.

According to the National Institute for Health, sleep apnea is a common condition in which your breathing stops and restarts while you sleep. Doctors said it can prevent your body from receiving enough oxygen.

According to the CDC, insufficient sleep can lead to an increased risk for a number of cardiovascular diseases, also type two diabetes, weight gain, anxiety, and depression.

“It can increase the risk of these things,” said Dr. Boota. “It may not be directly causing this, but it definitely increases risk.”

To diagnose sleep apnea, the National Institute of Health said your provider may have to perform a sleep study. However, there are some signs that are more noticeable.

“Snoring,” said Dr. Boota. “Snoring is a very habitual thing that is very common.”

Medical professionals said waking up with a headache, dry mouth, feeling sluggish, and showing signs of anxiety or depression are also reasons to seek help.

“Based on that we determine what the proper tests are to do,” said Dr. Boota.

While there are a number of risks linked to the condition, there are several treatment options.

According to the National Institute of Health, devices such as continuous positive airway pressure, also known as “CPAP” machines, and lifestyle changes are cures.

If those don’t work, doctors said surgery may be recommended.

Medical professionals said some patients show signs of sleep apnea for years before they reach out for help. Don’s wait! Doctors recommend seeing a professional before your lose another sleepless night.

Medical professionals said putting off your sleep apnea can lead to other problems such as low quality sleep, trouble concentrating, poor memory, or problems controlling your behavior.

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