Around 12 to 18 million adult Americans have undiagnosed sleep apnea. They might be surprised to hear that treating their condition might not only make them feel better, but look younger and more attractive.
Surprising results were obtained by the University of Michigan researchers while treating patients suffering from an obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). After giving them CPAP therapy (continuous positive airway pressure) they found that facial appearance of people who took the therapy for at least eight weeks has improved. They started looking more alert, youthful and attractive!
Pictures of 20 patients, men and women, ongoing through CPAP, were taken with 3D cameras before and after the treatment. Then they were compared by computers and people. While computers analyzed objective facial features like redness of the skin under the eyes or volume of the forehead, volunteers including medical professionals looked at the pictures without knowing which one was taken first, and gave them marks according to alertness, youthfulness and attractiveness.
Results given by volunteers and computers complimented each other. In two thirds of the cases, evaluators could identify post treatment pictures giving them higher marks on the beauty scale. Analysis done by computers gave objective results showing as a fact that redness over the cheeks and under the eyes of people after the treatment was significantly reduced and volume of the forehead area decreased which might be caused by changes in nightly fluid shift.
According to Dr. Ronald Chervin, leading expert of the study, no other facial changes were identified so far due to limited resources of the study. To get more information additional studies are required over longer period and in a greater number of patients.
About 12 to 18 million of Americans suffer from unidentified sleep apnea that affects people who are middle aged and older, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
We lose muscle tone with age, and when we sleep, our airways are often blocked by excess tissues like uvula, tongue or tonsils.
Usually snoring comes first, but snoring, loudly disrupting a good night’s sleep of a sufferer and his or her partner and causing tiredness, is still not the worst problem. Breathing of a sufferer stops many times during the sleep really threatening life. Even if all goes well and breathing continues, sleep disruption causes fatigue, headache, nervousness and, in the long run, damages the heart because it has to work harder trying to compensate low oxygen flow supplying the brain.
People with high blood pressure are at a higher risk of having obstructive sleep apnea, as well as people who are overweight. For those who have thick necks, excessive fat in the neck area can press against airways and cause snoring.
The most common treatment for severe cases of sleep apnea is the CPAP treatment used during the study at the Sleep Disorder Center of University of Michigan. It includes putting a special mask over the face during sleep that pumps air through a nose. Pressured air opens blocked airways letting air go to the lungs.
Treatment of OSA can be done at home, but should be observed by a doctor. But there are some tips to help improve quality of sleep even if you have not seen a doctor yet. Loosing excessive weight is one way since overweight is linked to OSA. But losing weight with the help of a healthy diet and exercising takes time, there are some easy tricks you can apply immediately like changing your sleep position – usually people experience breathing problems and snoring when they sleep on their backs. Sometimes raising your head by using an additional pillow might help, as well as avoiding heavy meals or high fat food before sleep time.
The best and safest though is to go to the doctor and seek professional advice. CPAP, as shown by the latest research, is going to improve the quality of your life including the way people see you – youthful and attractive. But all factors helping you sleep better, reaching up to seven or eight hours of ideal nighttime sleep, benefit your health and physical appearance.
By Alsu Salakhutdinov