Waking up in the morning rested and refreshed is a great feeling. You feel ready to start your day and tackle the tasks ahead. Plenty of people have the occasional bad night. They toss and turn and just cannot seem to sleep for more than a few minutes at a time. They trudge through their day feeling groggy. They go to bed and get some good rest and the next morning; they are back to their normal selves. However, for millions of Americans, quality sleep seems impossible. No matter what they do, they always wake up feeling more tired than when they went to bed the night before. If this sounds familiar, you might be living with a condition known as sleep apnea, and Shenandoah Family Dentistry can help.
Sleep involves cycles. Your body goes through these cycles, repairing itself, restoring energy, and processing emotions. These cycles are essential for restful sleep. Sleep apnea is a condition in which your breathing stops, interrupting your natural sleep cycles. Every time your breathing stops, an event known as an apneic event, you wake up, even if you are unaware of it. When you fall back to sleep, the sleep cycles start over again. Sleep apnea ranges from mild, where you experience 5 to 14 apneic events per sleeping hour, to severe, where you experience 30 or more apneic events per sleeping hour. This makes it impossible for your body to complete the necessary sleep cycles. There are two types of sleep apnea:
• Obstructive sleep apnea. This is the most common type of sleep apnea, and it occurs when your airways become blocked. Your tongue or excess oral tissue are frequently the culprits.
• Central sleep apnea. This type of sleep apnea occurs when the brain fails to communicate with the muscles that control your breathing.
There are several symptoms that accompany sleep apnea:
• Snoring. You may not notice this symptom unless someone points it out to you.
• Waking up with a sore throat.
• Feeling excessively tired throughout the day.
• Falling asleep while doing daily tasks, even while driving your car.
• You find it difficult to concentrate.
• You are irritable and have difficulty controlling emotions.
• Sleep apnea over time can have serious health effects, such as high blood pressure, weight gain, increased instances of illness, inflammatory issues, and depression.
Sleep apnea is diagnosed through a sleep study. This test can be done in a lab, or it can be done in your own home. While you sleep, you are attached to computers, which record electrical signals from your brain and muscles. The data is recorded and analyzed by a sleep specialist. If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea, treatments can be recommended and prescribed.
There are several different ways sleep apnea can be treated:
• Weight loss. For some patients diagnosed with sleep apnea, this is all that is needed.
• CPAP machine. This machine delivers a constant stream of air through a mask worn over your nose while you sleep, keeping your airway open.
• Oral appliance therapy. At Shenandoah Family Dentistry, we can help to treat mild to moderate sleep apnea with an oral appliance. This device, similar to a sports mouthguard, is worn over your top teeth while you sleep. It is created from a mold of your mouth, providing a proper, comfortable fit. It works to hold your jaw in proper alignment, preventing the mandible from sliding backward, and keeping your oral tissues from blocking your airway.
• Oral surgery. In severe cases, oral surgery may be recommended. There are a few different types of surgery that may be used, including removing excess oral tissues or repositioning your jaw forward.
With sleep apnea properly treated, you can finally get the restful sleep you have always dreamed of. For more information, call Shenandoah Family Dentistry at (540) 667-8731.