Millions of people in the United States alone suffer from a condition known as sleep apnea. Some of the hallmarks of obstructive sleep apnea are extreme snoring, daily exhaustion, and sudden waking during the night.
If any of these symptoms apply to you, then sleep apnea could be the cause of your sleeping difficulties.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea is caused by the airways near the back of your throat becoming blocked—or obstructed—while you sleep, thus preventing proper breathing.
This can happen for multiple reasons:
Collapsed Airway Tissues | While we are conscious, there is a certain amount of muscle tension in most of our bodily tissues. At night, as we drift into sleep, that tension dissipates. The relaxed state of the airway tissues combined with the pull of gravity can cause these passages to close.
Poor Placement/Misalignment | When we lie down to sleep, especially if we sleep on our backs, the jaw will often hang open and the tongue will slide backward, causing severe airway blockage. Some other causes of this type of blockage are swollen or infected tonsils, poor nasal passage size, and crooked—or deviated—passageways.
Whatever the cause, airway blockage often causes breathing to stop completely. At this point, the brain falls back on its emergency plan: waking us up immediately.
Depending on the severity of the sleep apnea, this can happen anywhere from once to hundreds of times in a single night. Most of the time these episodes of waking up last for mere microseconds. You may not even remember them happening.
Nevertheless, waking up in this manner interrupts our sleep cycles. This results in many undiagnosed people thinking that they got a complete night’s sleep, and yet still being inexplicably exhausted the next day.
The Symptoms of Apnea
Each case of sleep apnea is as unique as the person who suffers it. However, there are several general symptoms that are very common for most cases of apnea:
- Waking up with a sore or dry throat.
- Loud snoring.
- Waking up to choking or gasping.
- Extreme exhaustion during the day.
- Sleepiness while driving.
- Morning headaches.
- Restless sleep.
- Mood changes.
These symptoms can interfere with your ability to function throughout the day, causing even more problems. This is why we encourage anyone who is suffering from these symptoms to see a physician to determine whether or not they have sleep apnea.
A better night’s sleep can turn your whole life around!
Sleep Apnea Treatments
There are several apnea treatments available. The option that is right for you will depend on your individual case of apnea. Two general treatments that help most apnea cases are the CPAP and the oral appliance.
CPAP | The CPAP is a machine that actively pumps air into your passages while you sleep. This not only keeps them open, but ensures that you get plenty of oxygen during the night.
The Oral Appliance | The oral appliance looks a little like a sports mouth guard. It is customized to fit your mouth in such a way that it keeps your tongue and jaw from sliding backward at night, thus keeping the airways from closing.
These sleep apnea treatments can help you enjoy safe, restful sleep that can keep you energized all day long!
Talk to Us Today About Sleep Apnea Options
We would love to help rest well every night! Call us if you would like to pursue treatment for your sleep apnea.
Don’t hesitate to contact us at Sage Brush Dental Health to discuss your options for getting a diagnosis and treatment plan so that you can achieve the good night’s sleep you deserve!