Sleep Apnea In-Depth


Sleep Apnea at Raptou Family Dental, Columbus, OHWaking up feeling rested, refreshed, and ready to tackle the day ahead is one of the greatest feelings there is. You feel energized, motivated, excited, and ready to get moving. Even those who usually wake up feeling this way occasionally experience a poor night of sleep. They toss and turn. They may wake up several times throughout the night and find it difficult to go back to sleep. In the morning, they feel groggy and may drag a bit. However, they are still able to function. That night, they go to bed, and everything is back to normal the next day. However, for millions of Americans, every night is a bad night of sleep and every morning is a struggle. No matter what they do, no matter what time they go to bed, they still wake up feeling exhausted, like they never went to sleep at all. If all of this sounds familiar, you may be one of those millions of individuals living with sleep apnea. Raptou Family Dental is here to help.

Why Is Sleep So Important?


Often, you hear people say that sleep isn’t all that important. In fact, it is often viewed as a hindrance for people who have a lot to do. Sleep gets in the way of getting other, seemingly more important, things done. The truth, however, is much different. Sleep is essential. But not just sleep, proper sleep. When you are sleeping, your body works to restore itself. Damaged cells are repaired. Sleep helps to give your immune system a boost, which enables it to function properly while you are awake. Your cardiovascular system gets a recharge. While all of this is happening, your body also recovers from the activities of the day, which then enables you to wake up the next morning rested, refreshed, and ready for what the day has in store.

How Sleep Works


While the concept of sleep seems simple, it is fairly complex. While you are asleep, your body goes through two different cycles. Each cycle is responsible for different things. Non-rapid eye movement, or NREM, sleep takes up about 75% to 80% of your total sleep time. It is during this phase that most of the health benefits occur. These benefits include tissue repair and growth, the restoration of energy, and the release of hormones essential for growth and development. Rapid eye movement, or REM, sleep makes up the other 20% to 25% of your sleep time. This is the phase during which dreaming happens. This phase enables your mind to process emotions, stresses, and memories. REM sleep is also thought to be linked to stimulating the areas of the brain that are used when new skills are being learned.

Both NREM and REM sleep occur several times while you sleep, alternating from one to the other. Allowing them to continue uninterrupted during the night is essential for waking up rested and refreshed.

What Happens if You Continually Sleep Poorly?


If you have one bad night of sleep, you may have tossed and turned all night, unable to fall asleep for some reason, you might get up in the morning feeling groggy. You may struggle a bit to get through your day, but you can manage. However, if this issue occurs continually, then it can begin to take a severe toll on your mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing. Chronic poor sleep can lead to issues such as:
•  Difficulty staying awake during the day. You might even find that you begin to drift off during the day, even when performing tasks that are important or that require significant concentration, including driving a car.
•  Trouble to perform at your optimal potential.
•  Difficulty with problem-solving.
•  Poor memory.
•  Trouble performing different types of physical activity.
•  Gaining weight. Several factors can contribute to weight gain. Poor sleep is thought to contribute because when you do not sleep well, your hormones are disrupted.
•  Increased risk of developing heart disease or suffering a stroke.
•  Increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. This is often because poor sleep has a negative impact on the metabolism of glucose in your body.
•  Poor immunity. With poor sleep, your immune system weakens. This leaves you much more susceptible to illnesses such as colds and infections.
•  Increase in inflammation. Sleeping poorly has been linked to digestive issues, which can lead to IBS and Crohn’s Disease.
•  Trouble controlling emotions. Poor sleep can lead to irritability. I can also cause you to become angry or upset much more quickly. This can significantly impact your social life.
•  Depression. Those who do not sleep well are at a greater risk for depression and are more likely to commit suicide.

Sleep Apnea


Sleep apnea is a condition that affects millions of Americans. It is a condition that occurs when your sleep cycles are disrupted multiple times throughout the night, night after night. The cause of sleep disruption is the cessation of your breathing or an apneic event. These apneic events last for several seconds and occur numerous times during the course of your sleep. Every time you stop breathing, you wake up, even if you have no idea that it is happening. Moreover, every time that you wake up, your body has to start its sleep cycles all over again. As a result, your body is unable to complete the necessary NREM and REM cycles that allow you to wake up feeling rested, refreshed, and help you to remain mentally and physically healthy.

Sleep apnea ranges in severity from mild to severe. With mild sleep apnea, you experience 5 to 14 apneic events per sleeping hour. With severe sleep apnea, you experience 30 or more. In addition to different levels of severity, there are also two different types of sleep apnea.
•  Obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA. This is the most common type of sleep apnea. With OSA, your airway becomes blocked while you sleep, usually by your tongue or other oral tissue.
•  Central sleep apnea. With this type of sleep apnea, there is a miscommunication between the brain and the breathing muscles that causes your breathing to stop. This type of sleep apnea is often the result of an instability in the respiratory control center.
Read more about the dangers of sleep apnea.

Sleep Apnea Symptoms


When you have sleep apnea, you are generally unaware of it. As a result, you often do not know that you have an issue, except that you continually wake up tired no matter what you do, and that being so tired is interfering with your daily life. The feeling of exhaustion every day is only one symptom of sleep apnea. There are several other symptoms as well, including:
•  Snoring. Most people are often unaware that they snore unless someone else informs them of the fact.
•  Waking up with a dry or a sore throat.
•  You may fall asleep during the day, even while performing important tasks that require significant concentration, such as driving.
•  Finding it difficult to concentrate on the tasks at hand.
•  Memory issues. You might find yourself forgetting things easily.
•  Suffering severe mood swings.
•  Insomnia.
•  Some individuals wake up in the middle of the night feeling as though they are choking.

Am I at Risk for Sleep Apnea?


Sleep apnea can affect anyone, regardless of age or sex. Children can even suffer from sleep apnea. There are certain factors however that can increase your risk for sleep apnea. Risk factors for sleep apnea include:
•  You are overweight or obese. When you are overweight, you may have excess fat tissue in or near the throat that can block your airway.
•  You have a large tongue or you have large tonsils.
•  You are over the age of 40. Older adults are more likely to develop sleep apnea.
•  You are a man. While both men and women can develop sleep apnea, men are at greater risk.
•  You have gastroesophageal reflux or GERD.
•  You have a deviated septum, suffer from allergies, or have some other type of nasal obstruction.
•  Family history. If you have family members who have suffered from sleep apnea, the chances are greater that you will suffer from the condition as well.

How Is Sleep Apnea Diagnosed?


To be treated for sleep apnea, you first need to be diagnosed. Diagnosing sleep apnea requires a sleep study. While traditionally done at a sleep clinic, sleep studies can now also be performed in the comfort of your own home. The test performed while you sleep called a polysomnogram. This test electronically transmits and records your physical activities. While you sleep, you are hooked up to computers. Electrodes are placed on your face and scalp. The electrodes then send electric signals generated by the brain and the muscles to the computers. You also have belts placed around the chest and abdomen to monitor your breathing. The next day, after the test is complete, a sleep specialist reads the recorded information and is then able to determine if you have sleep apnea, or if you have another sleep-related disorder.
Other tests that may be performed during your sleep study include:
•  An EEG, which measures your brainwaves.
•  An EMG, which monitors muscle activities of the face and legs.
•  An EOG, which monitors eye movement.
•  An EKG, which monitors your heart activity.

What Treatments Are Available for Sleep Apnea?


After you have received a diagnosis of sleep apnea, then a treatment plan can be devised. There are several different treatments available for sleep apnea. Common treatments include:
•  Weight loss. In individuals who are overweight, losing weight is all that is needed to put an end to sleep apnea.
•  Changing sleep positions. This may include avoiding sleeping on your back. Special pillows are available that can prevent you from shifting onto your back while you sleep.
•  Lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking or drinking.
•  A CPAP machine. A continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, machine is a small machine that delivers a constant stream of air through a small mask that is worn over your nose while you sleep.
•  Oral surgery. In certain situations, where no other treatments have been effective, oral surgery may be recommended. You may have severe alignment issues in your jaw, your tonsils may be enlarged, or you may have a deviated septum. There are several different types of surgeries that may be performed depending on your specific situation. For instance, surgery may be performed to remove tissue obstructing your airway, increase the width of the airway, or move the jaw forward to prevent tissue from sliding back into the airway.

Treating Sleep Apnea With Oral Appliance Therapy


CPAP machines are one of the most common treatments for sleep apnea. However, not everyone is fond of the idea of wearing a small mask over their nose. Others may find these machines difficult to use, or that they interfere with their sleep even more. If you have mild to moderate sleep apnea, we can provide you with an alternative to CPAP with oral appliance therapy. With oral appliance therapy, you wear a custom fit nightguard in your mouth. This nightguard is a small oral appliance that is designed to fit over your front teeth and is designed to keep the airway open while you sleep.

You have probably seen oral appliances available for sale at the pharmacy. While these are widely available, and often marketed as affordable, over the oral counter appliances rarely get the job done. These devices are not made specifically for your mouth. They may slip around or fall out of your mouth while you sleep, rendering them ineffective. In some cases, the oral appliance can interfere more with your breathing, which not only exacerbates your condition but can also be dangerous.

If you are interested in an alternative treatment for a CPAP, you may be a candidate for oral appliance therapy. We can create a custom fit device that is specific to your mouth. To create a custom fit, we take digital impressions of your mouth. We then use the impressions to design and create your oral appliance. Before you go to bed, place the appliance in your mouth. It is designed to hold your jaw in proper alignment, preventing your jaw from sliding backward while you sleep. As a result, your tongue and oral tissues are kept forward, keeping your airway open.

What Are the Benefits of Oral Appliance Therapy?


There are several benefits to oral appliance therapy, including:
•  The appliance is easy to wear.
•  It is easy to take care of.
•  It does not make any noise, unlike a CPAP machine.
•  It can easily be transported, making traveling a breeze.
•  You are finally able to get good quality sleep, which not only enables you to wake up feeling rested and refreshed but is also aids in improving your physical, mental, and emotional health.

Living with sleep apnea can make it feel like you will never get the rest you need, no matter how hard you try. With proper treatment of your sleep apnea, however, you can finally get the sleep you need to finally wake up feeling rested and refreshed. If sleep apnea is affecting the quality of your sleep, call Raptou Family Dental at (614) 427-0449 today and find out how we can help.

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