You drift off to sleep for the night. Then the snoring begins. Your spouse shakes her head.
“Not again,” she thinks.
After a few minutes, the snoring stops, but this isn’t the relief your spouse is hoping for. When you stop snoring you also stop breathing. This can last for a few seconds, or it can go on for so long that it’s a little scary.
Then you wake up — for just a moment — until you drift off again.
And the snoring starts again …
If this sounds familiar to your spouse or partner, then you may be suffering from sleep apnea. Apnea is derived from a Greek word that can be translated as “breathless” or “without breath.”
When you have sleep apnea, you stop breathing dozens or hundreds of times each night depending on how severe your condition is. To put this in perspective, someone with mild sleep apnea may stop breathing up to 14 times per hour.
Dr. Mark Wilhelm doesn’t want you or your spouse to suffer from the effect of sleep apnea. To that end, we offer sleep apnea treatments at our dentist office in Woodbury, MN.
The Consequences Of Sleep Apnea
Let us be frank with you for a moment. Untreated sleep apnea is bad for your health for a number of reasons.
Studies have shown that people with sleep apnea are more likely to have these health issues:
▪︎ High blood pressure
▪︎ Heart disease
If that isn’t enough, people with sleep apnea also are more than twice as likely to be involved in automobile accidents.
Symptoms Of Sleep Apnea
You already understand why the health issues we just mentioned are important. We also realize that you may not know how those issues can be related to a sleep disorder.
Here’s what happens. When someone with obstructive sleep apnea (the most common form of sleep apnea) falls asleep, his or her airway becomes blocked.
This may happen gradually. Your muscles relax, allowing soft tissues to press into your airway, which also explains the snoring. When your airway is restricted, this can amplify the sound of your snoring.
When your airway becomes blocked, you stop breathing. At this point, your body is fighting to keep you alive. This can lead to the release of a stress hormone (thus the elevated blood pressure), and it is why you wake up repeatedly. When you wake up you breathe.
The other problem is this constant waking up means that you rarely, if ever, receive the deep sleep that health experts consider necessary to recuperate from our daily activities.
Without deep sleep, you suffer from sleep deprivation. As a result, you can feel fatigued throughout the day. You may have difficulty concentrating on a specific task.
And you may struggle with daytime sleepiness. This can be embarrassing if it happens at your desk, annoying if it happens while you are a trying to watch the game, or dangerous if it happens behind the wheel.
Sleep Apnea Treatment Options
When it comes to sleep apnea, there are things you can do, fortunately.
In many cases of obstructive sleep apnea, being overweight can be a factor. Losing weight may not make the problem go away, but it can reduce the severity of your condition.
On a nightly basis, however, there are a few tools you can use:
➤ CPAP machines force your airways to remain open by blowing air into your airways. Using a CPAP can be effective, but for many people, it isn’t for a number of reasons.
You have to wear a mask, which can be irritating. The machine makes noise, which may keep you awake. And you may remove your mask unknowingly in your sleep, which means you aren’t getting the benefits of the machine.
➤ Oral appliances work in a slightly different way. These mouthpieces are worn while you sleep. They work by pulling your jaw forward just enough that it helps to keep your airways open.
Many patients prefer this to the CPAP machine.
➤ Combination therapy is an option as well if you come to our dentist office in Woodbury, MN. Dr. Wilhelm is the only center in Minnesota authorized to provide a facemask that combines the benefits of a CPAP machine with a custom-fitted oral appliance.
Sleep Better, Feel Better
If you want a good night’s sleep for yourself and your spouse, then it’s time to talk to Dr. Wilhelm.
To get started, call 651-319-9064 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.