Understanding The Background Of Why Insomnia And Sleep Apnea Exists In People With Sickle Cell Anemia

Sickle cell anemia is a disease in the blood. It is a hereditary condition that could be passed on from generation to generation. Parents serve as the carrier of the disease, but this could only affect their child if both of them could pass on the abnormal gene.

Why Insomnia and Sleep Apnea Exists in People with Sickle Cell Anemia
Why Insomnia and Sleep Apnea Exists in People with Sickle Cell Anemia
The red blood cells are the main problem in people suffering from this. Because instead of normally round-shaped oxygen-carrying hemoglobin, the shape of the red blood cells is crescent, more like a letter C. This abnormality in the shape of the red blood cells causes rigidity. Thus causing a delay in the distribution of oxygen throughout the body.

How does sickle cell anemia trigger insomnia in patients?

In connection to that, signs and symptoms will occur, which include hypoxia, jaundice, and anemia, episodes of pain, frequent infections, hand-foot syndrome, delayed growth, and visual problems.

How does sickle cell anemia trigger insomnia


These symptoms are quite hard to deal with. Thus, medical attention is highly recommended for a series of treatments.

How does sickle cell anemia trigger insomnia in patients? Well, it’s not hard to relate the two conditions, given all the signs and symptoms associated with sickle cell disease. Here are some points.

Hypoxia

This is one of the factors why insomnia occurs in persons with sickle cell anemia. Hypoxia has something to do with the difficulty in breathing because the heart is required to pump much because of anemic blood.

So if there is difficulty in breathing, it is hard for someone to have a good night's sleep. Thus, insomnia could develop. It would be a good option to find ways on how to alleviate hypoxia so as to prevent any further experience of insomnia.

Episodes of Pain

This is one of the first symptoms that a patient with sickle cell anemia experiences. The pain is due to swelling in different parts of the body, which usually affects the muscles, feet, legs, arms, hips, shoulders, and back.

The episodes of pain could last for hours and even weeks. So if there is a pain, it is hard to rest and fall asleep. In the long run, a person will surely develop insomnia.

Sleepless nights or insomnia is managed when the episodes of pain are addressed because this is the reason why such a condition exists.


It is best to always have regular checkups to assess the severity of the condition. Regular checkup and appointment to the doctor would mean more chances of being treated from sickle cell anemia, and so as from all the signs and symptoms associated with it.

Sleep Apnea and Sickle Cell Anemia

According to a study published in the online journal Pediatrics funded by the National Institute of Health, children suffering from sickle cell anemia are more likely to suffer sleep apnea than those who are healthy.

Sleep apnea is a disorder related to sleep breathing patterns that reduce the levels of oxygen in the blood during nighttime. Patients that suffer from this disorder cease breathing for a while lasting from a few seconds up to a few minutes which happens frequently throughout the sleeping cycle.

Risk factors

According to the Sleep Apnea Association, approximately 1% to 5% of children in the United States suffer from sleep apnea. The risk factors associated with this include chronic tonsillitis and adenoiditis, as well as obesity and smaller upper airways.

Sickle cell anemia, on the other hand, is among the most common genetic disorders in the country and it is commonly diagnosed in newborn babies. It is estimated that this affects approximately 70,000 to 100,000 people in the United States; which commonly affects African Americans.

What is the Cause of Sleep Apnea in Sickle Cell Anemia?

Children who have sickle cell anemia have lower levels of oxygen compared to healthy children. Thus, they are more likely to suffer from sleep apnea, as well as asthma.

Sleep Apnea and insomnia


According to the study conducted by Dr. Michael DeBaun of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and Dr. Robert Strunk of Washington University School of Medicine, they have found that there is a relationship between breathing problems and increased hospitalizations due to pain and chest problems in children that suffer sickle cell anemia.

Their study shows that sickle cell anemia patients who have sleep apnea have more severe symptoms of their condition than those who patients that don’t have sleep apnea.

According to Dr. Carol Rosen of University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital, low oxygen levels trigger sickling of the cells; thus, if you have sleep apnea with episodes of low oxygen, you may more likely experience more health problems and sickling.

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