A lack of oxygen throughout the night can result in a wide range of symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, fatigue, depression and even heart problems.
The most common condition to cause oxygen loss at night is hypoxemia. The condition causes chronic low blood oxygen levels and is worsened when you’re sleeping.
Symptoms to look out for if you think you may be suffering from low oxygen at night are:
If the process of oxygen flowing through your bloodstream is being tampered with or blocked, this will cause you to have low blood oxygen, and you will probably suffer with some if not all of these symptoms.
More serious symptoms from prolonged oxygen loss include anxiety and depression, confusion or ‘brain fog’, and loss of memory.
There are a huge number of symptoms and causes of low oxygen at night. While it is normal for your blood oxygen levels to drop a little while you sleep, if you think your oxygen levels are decreasing significantly it could be due to various underlying issues.
We don’t breathe as deeply when we sleep as we may do during the day, so our lungs aren’t working at full capacity. So, it makes perfect sense for your oxygen levels to be reduced as a result of this.
There are lots of reasons why you may be losing oxygen during sleep, often, it’s because of an underlying health condition you may or may not be aware of.
These could include (but are not limited to):
Low oxygen levels at night can also disrupt your sleep, resulting in you feeling fatigued and less alert during the day. Lack of oxygen also damages your cells’ ability to reproduce, repair and replenish.
If you are suffering from any of the above symptoms, it is worth seeking medical advice from your doctor. You may require oxygen therapy
What happens if you use oxygen and don’t need it?
If you use oxygen without a prescription or the need for extra oxygen you are putting yourself at risk of damaging your body.
It is long-established that too much pure oxygen can damage the fats, protein and even the DNA in your body. As a result, your eyes and lungs are harmed causing you sight and breathing problems.
The oxygen we breathe in the air isn’t 100% pure oxygen. Instead, it’s mixed with nitrogen which works to slow down the burning process, so we get enough energy throughout the day, according to experts at the University of Southern Queensland.
People with lung disease and other respiratory conditions may not get enough oxygen, so they require oxygen therapy. This will be either prescribed or administered by a doctor or qualified individual.
Some people will require extra oxygen at all times, while others may only need it during certain times like when they sleep or if they’re exercising. But, the levels of oxygen they receive is specially managed and rationed to ensure they don’t receive too much, which would cause harm to their bodies.
Taking oxygen over a prolonged period of time if you don’t need it can be extremely dangerous. This is because in its purest form, oxygen is can be highly corrosive.
Too much pure oxygen causes oxidation (the act of decay) and the increased production of ‘free radicals’. ‘Free radicals’ are the toxic byproducts of oxygen, they can cause serious damage to healthy cells and tissue within the body.
Exposure to too much unnecessary oxygen can also damage the lungs, eyes and cause seizures.
Breathing pure oxygen for a prolonged period of time (24 hours or longer) can cause the following side effects:
Breathing in pure oxygen for a short period of time will not cause long-term damage to your body, although it is still not recommended. Breathing pure oxygen for longer than 24 hours if you have not been prescribed to by your doctor can be detrimental to the health of your brain, lungs, eyes and more.
So, it is recommended that you do not expose yourself to pure oxygen if you do not need it and have not been advised to do so by a doctor. If you are experiencing a lack of oxygen while you sleep, seek medical advice.
Damon Wiseley is a Registered Respiratory Therapist and Certified Pulmonary Function Technologist.