Are you a stickler for your bedtime? Are you avoiding certain foods that could mess with the quality of your sleep, such as alcohol, dark chocolates, and coffee too late at night? When it feels like you can’t get a good night’s rest, it could really take a toll on your quality of life. Your mood can be thrown out of whack, you could have trouble concentrating, and you could feel overly anxious or angry. If you’ve been trying all the latest trends in getting a good night’s rest, maybe even investing in a weighted blanket, and it doesn’t seem like anything is working, there could be another explanation: sleep apnea. Sleep apnea affects your body in many negative ways, including disrupting your blood-oxygen levels while you sleep. If you’re afflicted with sleep apnea, it could be that no amount of rest is right for you.

stressed out woman sits at her computer with coffee

What Is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by disruptions to the body’s natural breathing cycle during sleep. Obstructive sleep apnea — the most common form — occurs when airways are repeatedly blocked during the night. What causes these blockages differs from person to person. The cause could be completely genetic, triggered by the size of your neck, the size of your tongue (which can roll into the back of your mouth obstructing your airway), or the size of your airways. If sleep apnea becomes severe enough, it could lead to a drop in blood-oxygen levels, predisposing you to hypertension, and increasing your risk of heart attack, stroke, and even sudden death.

What Are the Symptoms of Sleep Apnea?

As you sleep, the muscles in the back of your throat relax, which narrows your airways considerably. If the airway is narrow enough, the movement of air can cause vibrations which results in snoring. If your partner has complained of you snoring, this is one of the most common symptoms of sleep apnea. Other symptoms could include waking up frequently during the night, morning headaches, and excessive daytime sleepiness. If you’ve felt more tired than normal, no matter the amount of sleep you receive, this a big sign that you could be affected by sleep apnea. Another major factor is family members also affected, as the disorder can be genetic.

What Should I Do If I Suspect I Have Sleep Apnea?

According to research published by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, an estimated 5.9 million people in the U.S. are diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, but close to 23.5 million are still undiagnosed. Because many of the symptoms occur during sleep, it makes it much more difficult to self-diagnose. There are, however, factors which increase your risk of sleep apnea, including, obesity, smoking, the use of alcohol, or frequent congestion. If you suspect you may have sleep apnea, schedule an appointment with your doctor and undergo a sleep study.

If you’ve already been diagnosed, your dentist can help. They can offer a dental device that’s an alternative to  designed to keep your airways clear during sleep.

Do you want to learn how you and those around you can finally sleep peacefully without surgery, without masks, and without pumps? Please call (910) 392-6060 for an appointment at Kuzma Advanced Dentistry in Wilmington, NC today.