In the classic poem “A Visit From St. Nicholas,” Clement Clark Moore described a household on the night before Christmas.
While we remember this story for it’s wonderful depiction of Santa’s stop at a family home, we can be pretty sure that no one in that family had sleep apnea. If that was an issue, the following scene probably wouldn’t have been possible:
The children were nestled all snug in their beds;
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap
If you live with someone who has sleep apnea, you know that his or her snoring would make a “long winter’s nap” nearly impossible.
Fortunately, multiple treatment options for individuals who are suffering from sleep apnea. If you are looking for a solution to your snoring problem, dentist Denise DiBona, DDS, in Red Bank would be happy to help you and your loved ones sleep a lot easier.
Obstructive sleep apnea
There are three major types of sleep apnea, but obstructive sleep apnea is the most common form.
Apnea comes from a Greek word that means “without breath.” Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder in which someone stops breathing in his or her sleep.
In patients with obstructive sleep apnea, something blocks their airways when they fall asleep. If you share a bed or even sleep down the hall from someone with sleep apnea, you’ve probably noticed two things occur when he or she sleep.
First, they stop breathing, sometimes briefly and sometimes for what seems like minutes at a time. Second, they snore loudly and frequently throughout the night.
This can be both scary because you worry when someone who you care about stops breathing and annoying because their snoring it keeping you from sleeping.
If you have sleep apnea, your persistent snoring is your body’s solution to get you to breathe again. What happens often is that the muscles around your airways become too relaxed when you go to sleep. This blocks your airway. To reopen your airway, your body causes you to snore, which wakes you up just long enough to breathe again.
This is also why you can wake up in the morning and still feel exhausted. When you are waking up multiple times throughout the night, you aren’t getting the kind of healthy sleep that you need to feel rested and refreshed.
And since your snoring is keeping other people awake, they may have trouble getting healthy sleep, too.
What is healthy sleep?
The American Sleep Apnea Association has some good information about healthy sleep. During the night, people go through multiple sleep cycles that include light non-REM sleep, deep non-REM sleep, and REM sleep. REM is short for rapid eye movement, and this is the stage when we dream.
During deep non-REM sleep, our blood pressure lowers and our heart rate drops. Many sleep experts believe this is the stage of sleep that helps us feel the most refreshed. People with sleep apnea are less likely to reach this stage of sleep since they are waking up frequently because of their snoring.
It probably won’t be a surprise to you to learn that people with sleep apnea are at higher risk for other health issues, including high blood pressure, obesity, and stroke.
What is the solution?
The most common treatment for sleep apnea is a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine. When you use one of these machines, you put on a mask when you are ready for bed. The machine blows air into your airway to keep it open, and this allows you to breathe more easily during the night.
This is an effective snoring solution … if you are willing to wear the mask. Many people can’t or won’t wear the mask, however. They may take it off in the middle of the night. They may find it irritating or uncomfortable, or they may find the mask makes it harder to fall asleep.
If you live in or near Red Bank and you find your CPAP too troublesome, then you need to call our dentist office. If you are not sure that you have sleep apnea, our dentist can order a sleep study to diagnose your condition.
Once your sleep apnea has been confirmed, we can create a custom-fitted mouthpiece that you will wear at night. The mouthpiece changes the position of your jaw so that it sits slightly forward. This helps to keep your airway open without a mask. Many people find this more comfortable than their CPAP and an effective treatment to sleep through the night.
Resolve to find a solution to your snoring problems. Don’t go through another year without healthy sleep. If you won’t do it for yourself, do it for you family. They deserve healthy sleep, too, and they may not be able to get it unless you seek treatment for your sleep apnea.
New patients are always welcome, too. Please fill out this form to bring to your first appointment.