You go to bed hoping for a good night’s rest, but the morning comes and you wake up tired. “Why am I always so tired?!” you ask yourself while making a strong cup of coffee. Little do you know what goes on while you think you’re asleep. As you lay on your back and doze off, your bed partner groans and your pets scatter as the sounds of your snoring get louder.
Occasionally, your partner looks over with a sigh of relief when the deafening sound stops. Little do they know that you’ve stopped breathing altogether. Your airway is closed. No oxygen is getting to your brain. You gasp for air and wake up. Have you ever seen this? This could be your spouse, your parent, or even you!
What’s really happening? Laying on your back, your jaw and tongue fall back into your throat, closing up your airway, and you stop breathing. Your body realizes that not enough oxygen is getting to your brain, and you perform emergency self CPR by bringing your jaw forward, grinding your teeth, until your body forces open your throat for a deep breath. This shoots up your heart rate as well. Sometimes, this act alone will wake you up and you’ll feel your heart beating quickly. Sometimes, you go right back to sleep so fast that you remain oblivious to it all. But you wake up tired due to a lack of oxygen nourishing your brain. And having your heart rate go up and down all night is literally a workout. No wonder you’re tired in the mornings when you’ve been working out all night. The constant lack of oxygen leads to a whole host of problems.
So how do you know if you are at risk? Here are some symptoms of sleep related breathing disturbances and/or sleep apnea:
– Grinding/clenching teeth at night.
– Tired in the morning
– Tired throughout the day
– Waking up during the night
– Waking up with a dry mouth
– Neck circumference larger than 17inches in men (15.5in females)
– Acid reflux
– Enlarged tongue or indents on the sides of your tongue
– Morning headaches, migraines, cluster headaches
– Sexual dysfunction
So what happens if you don’t do anything about it? If left untreated, this condition only gets worse. It can affect the way you function and even those around you. Here are a few things that can develop as a result:
– Thyroid dysfunction
– High blood pressure
– Physically tired, anxious, irritable
– Suppressed immune system
– Heart attack, stroke and other heart conditions
– Sudden death during sleep
Now what can be done if you or someone you know has several symptoms listed above? First of all, inform your medical provider. They’ll talk to you about getting a sleep study that can determine how well (or maybe not so well) you sleep during the night. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. 32% of male patients, 60% of NFL players, and 70% of those who snore have a sleep related breathing disorder. For a quick fix, try sleeping on your side. Shedding some winter weight can help too. Your doctor may recommend a CPAP and/or an oral device. 70% of sleep apnea cases can be treated with an oral appliance. Make sure you find a dentist who has experience with sleep apnea for an appliance customized for your condition. But taking the first step, by taking a sleep study test can impact your life, and may even save it! For more information, ask our staff if you are a candidate for a sleep study. It may be the best thing you’ve done for yourself.
Read about our at-home sleep study