If you have sleep apnea, it can be difficult to get enough good-quality sleep. You may find yourself tired during the day even if you get eight hours of sleep at night.
If you're always tired, and if your sleeping partner has noticed loud snoring or pauses in your breathing while you sleep, it’s essential to talk about it with your dentist.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder that causes you to stop breathing repeatedly during the night.
The most common form of sleep apnea is called obstructive sleep apnea. In this form of the condition, your throat muscles relax and block your airway during sleep. This can cause you to stop breathing for periods lasting from 7 seconds to 2 minutes at a time—sometimes even longer.
These interruptions disrupt your regular breathing cycle and lead to fragmented sleep patterns and daytime fatigue. Over time, this can lead to other health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes mellitus (type 2), and depression or mood disorders.
How Can I Tell If I Have Sleep Apnea?
- You snore loudly.
- You have episodes of apnea (pauses in breathing) while you sleep.
- You have trouble sleeping through the night and wake up feeling tired.
- You have problems with concentration or memory. These can also be signs that your sleep apnea is disrupting your daytime activities.
How Is Sleep Apnea Diagnosed?
If you think that you might have sleep apnea, talk to your dentist about it. They can often diagnose sleep apnea by asking you questions and performing a physical examination.
The most common test for sleep apnea in sleep studies is called polysomnography (PSG). PSGs measure brain waves, eye movements, heart rate, and breathing effort during sleep. The results of this test help determine whether someone has obstructive sleep apnea.
If your medical practitioner thinks that you may suffer from the condition but isn’t sure if it is severe enough to warrant further treatment, they may recommend testing with a home monitoring device called an oximeter that measures oxygen saturation in the blood. This device is worn like a finger band at night while sleeping so they can determine if any episodes occur where oxygen levels drop too low while sleeping.
What Are the Treatments for Sleep Apnea?
There are several treatments for sleep apnea. The first step is to get diagnosed, and you may be referred to an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist or sleep doctor if needed. Once diagnosed, several treatment options can be tailored to your personal needs and lifestyle:
- Oral appliances
- Anterior modeling appliance (ARA)
- Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)
- Weight loss/lifestyle modifications
Don't Put Off Getting Help
If you think you have sleep apnea, talk to your dentist. Untreated sleep apnea is a serious condition that can lead to other health problems, such as high blood pressure and heart disease.
It's crucial to get diagnosed if you think you have sleep apnea because there are effective treatments for the disorder—treatments that could significantly improve your quality of life.
Learn More About Sleep Apnea Treatment
Sleep apnea disrupts your sleep and negatively affects your health. The good news is that it can be treated. Your dentist can help you get the proper treatment and take steps to protect your health.