Since March is National Sleep Awareness Week (March 12-18), this is the perfect time to evaluate your sleep quality and find ways to catch more zzz’s for better mental and physical health and well-being. Sleep Awareness Week officially starts at the beginning of daylight saving time (DST), which is when most of us lose that coveted hour of sleep. This yearly change that happens every spring reminds us to take the time to do what it takes to improve our sleep schedule for better sleep health.
The National Sleep Foundation affirms that 45% of Americans report getting less than their normal hours of sleep, impacting their day-to-day pursuits at least once in the previous seven days. Were you aware that daytime drowsiness slows a driver’s reaction time as much as it does for people driving drunk? According to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, fatigue is the cause of 100,000 vehicle crashes and a whopping 1,550 crash-related deaths every year in the USA.
And it isn’t just about accidents on the road; apparently, sleep loss also contributes to work accidents and injuries. In fact, chronic poor sleep negatively affects thinking and learning along with impaired attention, alertness, concentration, reasoning, and problem-solving.
Underdeveloped Mouth and Jaws
Sleep apnea may also arise from an underdeveloped mouth and jaws, leading to an underdeveloped upper or lower jaw, nasal dysfunction, structural abnormalities, and even tongue-tie, leading to the following nasal and dental abnormalities:
- Narrow palatal dental arch
- Crowded/crooked teeth
- Teeth grinding
- TMJ dysfunction
- Bony growths in the oral cavity
- Nasal resistance and obstruction
- Swollen tonsils or adenoids
- Dry mouth
- Improper tongue position
These nasal and dental abnormalities can ultimately lead to breathing and sleep disorders consisting of mouth breathing and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Left untreated, this continued lack of proper sleep can damage your mental and physical health. You could end up experiencing any of these health conditions:
- ADD or ADHD
- Cardiovascular disease
- Excessive drowsiness
Sleep Apnea Symptoms
So how do you know if you may be dealing with the effects of sleep apnea? You might need help addressing this sleep disorder if you recognize the following symptoms as part of your sleep habits:
- Loud snoring (typical of obstructive sleep apnea)
- Episodes of breathing pauses throughout the night
- Waking suddenly and gasping for breath (typical of central sleep apnea)
- Waking up with a dry or sore throat
- Having trouble continuing to sleep
- Chronic daytime fatigue and irritability
- Trouble concentrating
- Needing bathroom breaks throughout the night
Ultimately, sleep apnea keeps you from entering deep sleep stages your mind and body need to thrive. So, what can you do? Visiting our sleep apnea specialists can assess your sleep habits and determine the cause of your sleep apnea. From there, you have several options that can bring relief.
Sleep Apnea Treatments
- Oral devices: These are worn at night while you sleep, much like a night guard, except the sleep apnea appliance keeps your jaw (or tongue) in place so your airway remains open.
- PAP machines: Known as positive airway pressure (PAP) machines, a mask is worn while you sleep, delivering proper airflow. CPAPs, BiPAPs with CPAP and APAPs are the most common.
- Lifestyle adjustments: Side sleeping (instead of sleeping on your back), losing weight and exercising more can help your sleep breathing.
- Surgery: In some cases, surgery may be done to remove and reposition excess tissue in the throat, widening the airway. The soft palate and uvula can be trimmed, the tonsils removed, and the muscles in your soft palate repositioned.
Don’t Delay, Call Today
If you have trouble getting a good night’s sleep or recognize the symptoms outlined above, it may be time to be evaluated for sleep apnea. We invite you to call to learn more and get the help you need!