You turn on the air conditioner.
It’s not really because it’s hot outside. It’s because you are struggling to stay awake, and you are only halfway home from work. You have caught yourself dozing off several times already this afternoon.
It was a little embarrassing when one of your co-workers had to wake you up when you were at your desk so you didn’t miss your meeting.
Now, that you are behind the wheel, you are more worried about what could happen if you doze off again.
If you can relate to the situation above, then our team at Atlanta West Dentistry in Marietta, GA, wants you to consider a few more things.
Is daytime sleepiness a common occurrence?
Do you frequently feel tired when you wake up in the morning?
Does your spouse or partner often complain about your snoring?
Have you ever woken yourself up because of your snoring?
Have you woken up feeling like you are gasping for breath?
Do you often feel irritable, especially when you don’t feel like you’ve slept well?
If you answered yes to more than one of those questions, then you may be showing symptoms of sleep apnea.
This is a sleep disorder that is characterized by loud and persistent snoring, breathing stoppages while you are asleep, and sleep deprivation.
The only way to know for certain if you have this condition is to undergo a sleep study. A consultation with one of our dentists may help you determine if this is something that you should do.
The Consequences Of Sleep Apnea
When left untreated, sleep apnea has consequences that affect you and your loved ones.
A patient with a mild case of obstructive sleep apnea may stop breathing up to 14 times per hour, and each of those stoppages can last anywhere from 10 to 30 seconds.
Since these stoppages occur when you fall asleep, your brain will wake you up so you can take a breath. You may not remember this since you wake up just enough to breathe again before you fall back to sleep.
This also means instead of dozing off and then drifting into the deeper stages of sleep, you are staying in the lighter stages of sleep. As a result, you may be suffering from sleep deprivation, which explains both why you have trouble staying awake throughout the day.
It also explains why people with untreated sleep apnea are more than twice as likely to be the driver in an automotive accident.
It’s also true having sleep apnea increases your risk for high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes, and cardiovascular disease.
Now, try to imagine being the person sharing a bed with someone with sleep apnea. You are being kept awake by his or her seemingly endless snoring. This means you get to listen to him or her struggling to breathe.
Even if snoring wasn’t an issue, you might still be awake because you are worried about your spouse or partner.
In either case, both of you may feel irritable due to the lack of sleep, and that can affect your relationship, too.
What You Can Do About It
We will repeat what we mentioned earlier. You can start by scheduling a consultation with one of the dentists at Atlanta West Dentistry.
Once you have confirmed that you have sleep apnea, we can offer a treatment could help with your breathing and your snoring.
It’s possible that a doctor will recommend a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine. This is an excellent treatment option if you use it consistently.
With a CPAP, you will wear a mask that covers your nose or your nose and mouth. The machine will push air into your airway to keep it open. (With obstructive sleep apnea, your muscles relax and the tissues around your airway can cause it to become blocked.)
For some people, the CPAP can create new problems that make it harder for them to fall asleep, however.
A different option is available through our dentist office in Marietta, GA. Our dentists can create a custom-made snore guard for you. This is a kind of mouthpiece that you wear while you sleep.
The snore guard changes this position of your jaw. This helps to keep your airway open, which allows you to breathe. Subsequently, this allow reduces your snoring as well.
How would you like to wake up feeling rested and refreshed? How would you like to feel more alert throughout the day?