Is Your Sleep Causing You To Be Overly Tired?
Are you getting enough sleep at night?
Do you awake in the morning restless and tired?
Have you been told you snore and stop breathing while you sleep?
Does you partner snore so loud it keeps you up all night only to seek peace and quiet in another room?
Answering “yes” to any of these questions can be the first sign of a condition called sleep apnea
What exactly is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep Apnea is a breathing disorder in which you have a pause in your breathing while you sleep. This interruption in breathing can last 10, 20, and 30 even 40 seconds at a time. These episodes of non breathing can happen hundreds of times per night. Many people suffering with this condition consider it only as an inconvenience and write it off to just a snoring problem. However, when your body is depleted of needed oxygen, your brain sends a signal to your body to wake up and start breathing again. This constant interruption means you spend more time in a very light sleep and less time in the deep restorative “Rem” sleep that your body requires to be well rested and heal itself.
Although Sleep Apnea is a treatable condition it often goes un-recognized. If left untreated sleep apnea can lead to more serious health concerns including heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and diabetes. A chronic loss of sleep leads to day time sleepiness, poor concentration, and a higher risk of accidents, especially while driving.
What do you do if you suspect you have Sleep Apnea?
The first step is to visit your physician, preferably a Sleep Specialist and discuss your concerns. The only definite way to obtain a diagnosis is to have an over night sleep study preformed at a sleep clinic where they can monitor your sleep, breathing, oxygen levels, and patterns of sleep interruption. If a diagnosis is made for sleep apnea then a treatment phase begins.
Sleep Apnea can range from mild to moderate to severe apnea. For the moderate to severe apnea conditions the standard of care treatment is for the use of a CPAP which is short for Continuous Positive Air Pressure. CPAP uses pressurized air generated from a machine placed near your bed. The air moves through a tube to a mask that fits over your nose or mouth and nose. The pressurized air keeps your air passages open and your breathing is restored.
Although it is the gold standard of treatment, the CPAP causes many individuals some anxiety in wearing the device. For those who refuse or simply cannot tolerate a mask over their face the alternate treatment may be an oral appliance provided by a dentist trained in Dental Sleep Medicine and the various designs in appliances. This custom made oral appliance is similar to a sports mouth guard that holds the jaw forward and opens the airway allowing air to pass freely and reduce or even eliminate the snoring. Providing an oral appliance involves selecting the proper device to fit your needs, proper adjusting and working with your physician or sleep specialist with good follow up care to ensure the best possible results. The advantages of the oral appliance are that they are easy to wear, are comfortable after a period of adjustment and the oral appliance can be easily carried with when you travel unlike the CPAP machine.
Do not dismiss this potential serious condition. Any one can be afflicted from the 90lb house wife to the major athlete. Many remember Reggie White of the Green Bay Packers, one of the greatest NFL players, reportedly died from causes related to sleep apnea.
Take the Epworth Sleepiness Test
Please feel free to take this test with your score to your physician
The Epworth Sleepiness Scale
How likely are you to doze off or fall asleep in the following situations?
Choose the most appropriate number for each situation:
- 0 = would never doze
- 1 = slight chance of dozing
- 2 = moderate chance of dozing
- 3 = high chance of dozing
- Sitting and reading ____
- Watching TV ____
- Sitting, inactive in a public place (theater, meeting, etc.) ____
- As a passenger in a car for an hour without a break ____
- Lying down to rest in the afternoon when circumstances permit ____
- Sitting and talking to someone ____
- Sitting quietly after lunch without alcohol ____
- In a car, while stopped for a few minutes in traffic ____
- Total ____
A score of 9 or above indicates you may be having a problem with daytime sleepiness but below 9 does not necessarily mean that you don’t have a problem.
See your healthcare professional for advice if you snore, have been told that you awake gasping for breath or if you are sleepy during the day.
Be pro-active; find someone who can help you. Start breathing again at night, your mornings will seem like a new beginning to the rest of your life.