What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea affects the way you breathe when you’re sleeping. These breathing pauses typically last between 10 to 20 seconds and can occur up to hundreds of times a night, jolting you out of your natural sleep rhythm. As a result, you get less deep sleeps that keeps you mentally sharp and productive during the day.
Being sleepy during the day is just a minor effect of your health. Long term effects can include diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and weight gain. Luckily with treatment, you can get your sleeping under control and go back to being fully energized during the day.
Sleep Apnea versus Snoring
Not everyone who snores has sleep apnea, and not everyone who has sleep apnea snores. So its good to understand the difference of regular snoring versus a more serious sleeping disorder.
The biggest symptom is how you feel during the day. Normal snoring doesn’t interfere with the quality of your sleep as much as sleep apnea does, so you’re less likely to suffer from extreme fatigue and sleepiness during the day.
It can be tough to identify sleep apnea on your own, since the most prominent symptoms only occur when you’re asleep. One way to check if you possibly could have sleep apnea is ask your partner to watch you sleep and observe your sleeping habits.
What your partner should observe if pauses occur while you snore, and if choking or gasping follow the pauses, these are major signs that you have sleep apnea. You can also monitor your own signs by noticing if you are fighting sleepiness during the day, at work, or while driving.
Some other symptoms include:
- Morning headaches
- Memory or learning problems and not being able to concentrate
- Feeling irritable, depressed, or having mood swings or personality changes
- Waking up frequently to urinate
- Dry mouth or sore throat when you wake up
I think I may have Sleep Apnea, what now?
Some people may reluctant to call a professional so want to see if there is anything they can do on their own first. Below are some lifestyle changes that may be effecting your sleep:
- Quitting Smoking, Smoking is believed to contribute to sleep apnea
- Avoiding alcohol, sleeping pills, and sedatives, especially before bedtime
- Avoiding caffeine and heavy meals
- Maintaining regular sleep hours. Stick to a steady sleep schedule
In additional to lifestyle changes, there are also some bedtime tips that may help your sleep:
- Sleep on your side
- Prop your head up. Elevate the head of your bed by four to six inches
- Open your nasal passages. Try to keep your nasal passages open at night using a nasal dilator, saline spray, or breathing strips
Who do I contact if nothing works?
Many people do not know but your dentist can provide treatment t for most sleep apnea cases. Most dental devices are acrylic and fit inside your mouth, much like an athletic mouth guard. Others fit around your head and chin to adjust the position of your lower jaw. These devices open your airway by bringing your lower jaw or your tongue forward during sleep.
It is very important to get fitted by a dentist specializing in sleep apnea, and to see the dentist on a regular basis. Simply contact us to set up a Free Consultation. For more information on Sleep Apnea, please click here.