All anyone wants is a good night’s sleep.
How well our day goes is often connected to how well we slept the night before. Sleep allows our body to rest, restore energy, and boost our immunity. However, obstructive sleep apnea can sabotage the quality of our sleep. As a result, not sleeping well can wreak havoc on our physical and mental health. And achieving that good night’s sleep can be just down-right elusive to those with obstructive sleep apnea.
So, how well did you sleep last night?
We all have the occasional sleepless night. Stress and worry can contribute to tossing and turning in bed. And as we frequently peer at the clock with a tired eye, our frustration continues because we can’t fall asleep, or stay asleep. It can be a viscous cycle as we rise in the morning, frustrated and tired.
But for those with obstructive sleep apnea, not sleeping well is a nightly occurrence. As a sleeping disorder, it can greatly impact one’s overall physical and mental health, as well as quality of life.
What is obstructive sleep apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a potentially serious sleep disorder. It is a condition in which breathing stops involuntarily for brief periods of time during sleep. As we sleep, air flows naturally from our mouth and nose into our lungs. For those with OSA, the air flow is impeded throughout the night.
Due to a narrowing in the throat when muscles intermittently relax, the flow of air stops. Snoring is a noticeable sign of sleep apnea. It is caused by airflow squeezing through the narrowed airway space. Other symptoms include waking up frequently during the night, gasping for air.
Prevalence of sleep apnea increases as we age. Men are more prone to OSA than women. One in four middle-aged men have sleep apnea. However, a startling fact is that 80 – 90 percent of adults with obstructive sleep apnea are undiagnosed.
Research continues to recommend that adults require 7-9 hours of sleep for our overall health and well-being. Sleep helps protect your mental health, physical health, quality of life, and even your personal safety. Additionally, quality sleep helps your brain function properly and allows your body to heal and fend off major health complications.
It is difficult, if not impossible, for those untreated with obstructive sleep apnea to achieve the needed benefits of a good night’s sleep.
Effects from Sleep Deprivation
Many of us don’t get the adequate sleep our bodies really need to restore itself and function well the next day. However, for those with obstructive sleep apnea, chronic sleep deprivation can have multiple effects on health and daily living.
The long-term effects of sleep deprivation are real. The impact on your physical health can be significant. Prolonged lack of sleep increases risk for diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. It can also weaken your immune system and lead to obesity. All of these can lead to additional health issues.
Many of us have experienced fatigue, short temper, and lack of focus following a poor night’s sleep. However, for those with obstructive sleep apnea, it’s living on a whole other level of tiredness. Beyond moodiness from lack of sleep, those with chronic sleep deprivation can experience significant mood changes, along with depression and anxiety.
Sleep deprivation is like living within a dense fog. It takes a toll on how well you think clearly, solve problems, make decisions, and overall concentration. This can impact job performance, learning, and caring for yourself and your family.
Depending on your job responsibilities, lack of sleep can potentially affect how well you perform. You have a greater likelihood of mistakes and lower efficiency. And for those who work in an environment where safety needs to be top of mind, lack of sleep can put yourself and others at risk of injury.
Driving a motor vehicle when deprived of adequate sleep can be a recipe for a disaster. Although driving when exhausted can seem relatively harmless, it can have serious consequences. Sleep deprivation can have similar effects on the body as drinking alcohol.
Driving drowsy can impact your alertness, reflexes, and makes it difficult to pay attention to what’s going on around you on the road. In fact, you could even nod off while driving, causing an accident and putting yourself and others danger. According to a AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, those who sleep for less than four hours in a 24-hour period are 11.5 times likelier to crash. And drowsy driving is estimated to be a factor in 20 percent of fatal crashes. That’s a danger no one wants to risk.
Treatment for Obstructive Sleep Apnea
As highlighted, untreated sleep apnea can cause serious health problems as well as risks in physical danger. Often, those with obstructive sleep may not even realize they have it. If you have a partner who sleeps with you, they are probably awakened during the night hearing your load snoring or gasping for air. It’s important not to ignore these warning signs and seek medical help for the sleep disorder.
A good night’s sleep is like the Holy Grail to achieve good health. So how is obstructive sleep apnea treated?
A leading treatment is a continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP machine. However, this clunky apparatus can be difficult to get accustomed to. Research has shown half of those with a CPAP machine abandon using it.
An alternative to a CPAP is a custom-made oral appliance, unique for each individual. The appliance is inserted into the mouth and prevents the tongue and tissues in the back of the throat from collapsing over the airway during sleep. The devices are made by dentists, like Dr. David Busciglio, who focus exclusively on the treatment of TMJ and obstructive sleep apnea.
At Bay Area TMJ and Sleep Center, we provide relief to those suffering from obstructive sleep apnea. We are committed to helping our patients regain a restful night’s sleep, leading to a healthier life. If you experience difficulty sleeping, please contact us schedule an appointment.