Do you have problems sleeping deeply? Does your spouse say you snore too much? Do you snore so loudly you wake yourself up? You are not alone. More than 18 million people in the US have the same problems.
Snoring may seem trivial (if obnoxious), but it can be a sign of something worse. People who suffer from chronic snoring often suffer from sleep apnea too.
Many patients with sleep apnea do not know they have it — which means they are not benefitting from the available dental solutions for sleep apnea or the lifestyle choices capable of controlling some symptoms.
Sleep apnea can affect various aspects of your health, beyond sleep quality, including focus and memory. Discover more about what sleep apnea is, how it affects you, and the ways you can treat it.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea prevents the body from getting enough oxygen during sleep. The disease causes loud snoring and even inhibits breathing, generally many times through the night for 20-30 seconds, sometimes waking you up. You may not always be aware you stop breathing, and this can be quite dangerous — not to mention frightening for your partner.
Of the three kinds of sleep apnea, obstructive sleep apnea is the most common. It occurs when the muscles of the soft palate relax too much during sleep, causing the tongue to fall to the back of the throat blocking the airway. Central sleep apnea, on the other hand, is caused by the brain’s inability to communicate with the muscles responsible for breathing during sleep. Complex sleep apnea is a combination of both obstructive and central sleep apnea.
If you are not aware you suffer from sleep apnea, you may not look for the right solution to your snoring problem. But it can lead to numerous health complications, including:
- A weakened immune system and increased susceptibility to diseases;
- Chronic lack of sleep, causing physical and mental exhaustion as well as moodiness and irritability; and
- Increased risk of chronic illnesses like heart disease.
Even if you do not experience the more extreme symptoms, you will probably feel too exhausted to function properly without the quality sleep essential to healthy living. With the right healthcare and lifestyle changes, sleep apnea is very treatable.
Treatments and Dental Solutions for Sleep Apnea
Some of the factors that increase the risk of sleep apnea are genetic (like having a large overbite, overly-large tongue, or large neck), while others are related to lifestyle factors (such as being overweight and consuming alcohol and nicotine). The most important thing is that they all respond to treatment or cessation.
Continuous positive airway pressure, CPAP therapy, is what most doctors recommend for treatment. The patient uses a mask to open up their airway and allow them to sleep without obstruction.
Many other remedies are also available, including dental solutions for sleep apnea, which produce great results.
5 Ways You Can Manage Sleep Apnea
CPAP masks might be effective, but many people find them unpleasant and impractical. Many other methods are available before going for the mask. We have five options for how to treat sleep apnea before resigning yourself to CPAP therapy.
1. Change Your Current Sleep Position
For some people, the solution to their problem is extremely simple. Their sleep position causes symptoms and prohibits them from getting the amount of sleep they need. A recent study revealed that more than half of apnea cases could benefit from changing the position in which they sleep. So how should you get comfortable? Avoid sleeping on your back if you want to lessen symptoms.
2. Improve Your Diet
Another minor but immensely beneficial change to your lifestyle is an improved diet. People who are obese or have more fat in their neck have trouble sleeping normally because of the excess tissue obstructing their airways. Studies have shown weight loss can eliminate the need for wearing the CPAP mask or having a nasal passage surgery.
3. Get Active
A lack of physical activity is a problem for most Americans. Recent scientific studies have shown that irregular exercise is responsible for 22% of heart problems, 18% of osteoporosis fractures, and 12% of diabetes and hypertension.
A lack of activity does not improve sleep apnea either. Try introducing a light workout regimen. Something as light as yoga might help you shed a few pounds, increase blood oxygen levels, and keep your nasal pathways clear. Even a 30 minute walk most days of the week can be effective.
4. Use a Humidifier While You Sleep
Dry air is bad for your hair, skin, and lungs. Depending on your use of heat and air conditioning, you may notice your snoring becomes worse in different seasons. To combat this problem, go buy a humidifier to add moisture to the air in your house while you snooze.
A humidifier is a machine designed specifically to increase air moisture and prevent dry air from irritating your airways. The extra humidity can open up your airways and encourage easy, clear breathing.
5. Give Oral Appliance Therapy a Go
Last but not least is possibly one of the most effective ways to fight off sleep apnea. In the past decade, dentists have pioneered the use of oral appliance therapy — or OAT — in sleep apnea treatment. The treatment is as effective as the CPAP machine, if not more so.
To try OAT, your dentist will take a print of your jaw. Using the mold, he creates a custom-made mouthpiece. These dental appliances for sleep apnea move the jaw forward to keep the airway open, preventing you from snoring and giving you a better night’s sleep.
For More Information
You may need a combination of these treatments to manage your sleep apnea, but the improved quality of sleep should make it all worth it. Some people gravitate to home remedies, but traditional treatments overseen by qualified healthcare professionals can do wonders. If you are looking for dental solutions for sleep apnea, contact Dean Dental Solutions today!