Would you like to wake up feeling refreshed and rejuvenated? Without a headache?
Would it be nice to not get banished to the couch because of your snoring?
If any of that sounds familiar, there is a chance that you could have sleep apnea. This is a sleep disorder that affects tens of millions of Americans, and many of them are not aware that they have it.
Our team at 1st In Smiles want you to get the healthy sleep that you need to feel well-rested and alert throughout the day. If you live in or near Plano, TX, our dentist, Dr. Barfield, could help you.
Until then, take a few minutes to read these five facts that you should know about sleep apnea.
■ 1. When You Have Sleep Apnea, You Stop Breathing
Apnea comes from a Greek word that can be translated “without breath.” When you have sleep apnea, you stop breathing dozens to hundreds of times every night.
How often you stop breathing varies depending on whether you have mild, moderate, or severe sleep apnea. These stoppages can last for several seconds or more than a minute.
■ 2. Sleep Apnea Prevents You From Getting Healthy Sleep
Someone who gets healthy sleep will go through multiple stages of sleep each night.
It starts with light sleep. As you move to the second stage, your breathing and your heart rate start to slow down.
In the third stage, you are entering deep sleep. Sleep health experts believe this is the time our bodies recover and heal. The fourth stage is REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, which is also part of our deep sleep and when we dream.
When you have sleep apnea, your breathing stoppages can prevent you from reaching the stages of deep sleep. The reason is that when you stop breathing, your body will wake you up so you can take a few breaths.
These awakenings are often brief, and many times people have no memory of them. Even so, they are long enough that you stay in the light stages of sleep for most of the night.
■ 3. Snoring Is A Common Sign Of Sleep Apnea
This is especially true for people with obstructive sleep apnea, which is the most common form of this condition.
Obstructive sleep apnea is the result of your airway becoming blocked when you fall asleep. You may have a naturally narrow airway. You may have large tonsils that interfere with your breathing. You may have soft tissue pushing into your airways as a result of muscles relaxing when you fall asleep.
Regardless of the reason, when your airway is blocked, this causes you to snore. That snoring is often loud and persistent. It may be making it hard for your spouse or partner to sleep, too.
You do stop snoring at times, but that’s because you have stopped breathing, too.
■ 4. Sleep Apnea Increases Your Risk Of Being In A Car Accident
We could tell you that sleep apnea increases your risk of high blood pressure, heart attacks, and strokes, which is also true.
But we want you to be aware that leaving your sleep apnea untreated could put other people — people in your car, other people on the road — at risk as well. Multiple studies have revealed that people with untreated sleep apnea are more than twice as likely as other drivers to be involved in accidents.
The reason is sleep deprivation from not getting enough deep sleep. This can lead to frequent daytime sleepiness. On the weekend, it might mean you fall asleep in your favorite chair while you are trying to watch your favorite team. It can also mean dozing off when you are behind the wheel, which is a lot more serious concern.
■ 5. Sleep Apnea Can Be Treated
We know because we have helped many patients in and around Plano, TX, at our dentist office.
If we have reasons to believe that you might have sleep apnea, we can put you in contact with a sleep apnea specialist so you can get tested.
If your sleep apnea is confirmed, then we can discuss your treatment options. This might involve using a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine. Or you may prefer using a dental mouthguard instead.
We will work with you so you can choose the treatment that will be best for you.
If you suspect that you might have sleep apnea, don’t waste another day (or night). Call 1st In Smiles at 972-905-9266 to set up a consultation. We want you to get the deep sleep you need to be as healthy as you can be.