Silent Night= Happy Night

Most people do not consider snoring to be a dire medical condition, just an obnoxious sleeping habit that, say, may cause a friend to throw a pillow at your face during a slumber party. Conversely though, frequent, loud snoring could actually be a sign of a common, but potentially serious problem known as sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea is a disorder characterized by your breathing stopping and starting repeatedly while you are asleep. These interruptions typically last between 10 and 20 seconds and can occur hundreds of times throughout the night – constantly disrupting your sleeping rhythm. This, in turn, causes you to spend most of your night in a light sleep mode, versus a deep sleep mode that restores your mental and physical functions. And, as a consequence, your mental and physical energy levels do not properly recover from one day to the next and you become increasingly less productive. Beyond that, if left untreated, over time sleep apnea can also lead to more worrisome issues such as diabetes, weight gain, high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease.

The Consequences of Sleep Apnea if Left Untreated

Sleep Apnea Issues

Never fear, though. Sleep apnea is very treatable!

The first step in handling the sleep apnea problem is understanding the difference between the three main kinds of sleep apnea: obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea and complex sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common form of sleep apnea. This type of sleep apnea is caused by the soft tissue at the back of your throat blocking your airways – resulting in loud snoring. The second type of sleep apnea (central sleep apnea) is the result of the brain failing to signal the muscles that control your breathing. People with this type of sleep apnea are much more rare, and they hardly ever snore. Finally, complex sleep apnea is a disorder that combines both obstructive and central sleep apnea.

You may be wondering at this point, “If I don’t snore, or if I don’t have anyone to tell me that I snore, how can I tell if I have sleep apnea or not?”

That’s a great question!

Aside from a general tendency to feel sleepy, or not as sharp as you’d like to be during the day, there are many other symptoms that can hint at a sleep apnea problem. Some of these include: morning headaches, waking up frequently during the night to use the bathroom, dry mouth or sore throat when you wake up, feeling irritable or depressed during the day, mood swings, memory or learning problems, and not being able to concentrate. In children, other signs of sleep apnea may include bedwetting, excessive night sweating and night terrors.

Now that you know the different types of sleep apnea, and the signs that may indicate you have it, you are ready to learn how to best attack the problem.

There are many things you can do at home to treat sleep apnea. First and foremost, controlling your weight. The more overweight a person is, the more extra tissue they have at the back of their throat. Subsequently, the more at risk a person becomes to have their throat tissue block the flow of air to the lungs while they are sleeping. Ergo, losing weight can yield great results because it frees up those airways!


Other things you can do to overcome sleep apnea include:

  • Sleeping on your side
  • Avoiding alcohol
  • Maintaining a regular sleep schedule
  • Quitting smoking
  • Avoiding caffeine and heavy meals within two hours of going to bed
  • Propping your head up while you sleep
  • Opening your nasal passages before bed using saline spray, breathing strips, a nasal dilator or a Neti pot
  • Utilizing the “Tennis Ball Trick”- Sew a tennis ball into a pocket on the back of your pajama top, or cram a pillow with a tennis ball stuffed inside it behind your neck. This will keep you from rolling onto your back while you sleep.

All these home remedies can do wonders to counteract a sleep apnea problem. However, if the disorder persists, consult with your doctor or the caring staff at Cypress Family Dental to learn about other treatment options.

Sleep apnea is not the end of the world, but it may very well be limiting your world by causing you to lead a less productive life. Get your sleep and your life back on track today! Contact Cypress Family Dental to learn more!

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