Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) occurs when the airway collapses while you sleep, which can block the airflow to your lungs. When you try to continue to breath, your airway blockage can worsen. Eventually, your body “wakes up” the brain in order to reposition the jaw and tongue so you can breathe again, which usually causes you to gasp or snore. This problem can occur several times during the night, making it difficult for you to gain a restful sleep.
How you sleep during the night is broken into four stages:
- Stage 1: This is a transitional stage that usually accounts for about 5% of total sleep time.
- Stage 2: This is a light sleep stage that accounts for about 45% of total sleep time.
- Stages 3 & 4: This is the deep sleep stage that accounts for about 25% of total sleep time. Your body will heal itself during this stage and perform several important repair functions. If you do not get a lot of these sleep stages, then you may experience physical fatigue.
- REM: This is the Rapid Eye Movement stage that usually accounts for about 25% of total sleep time. Dreams occur during this stage as do reparative functions of the brain, which are similar to defragmenting a computer’s hard drive. If you do not get a lot of this sleep stage, then you may experience mental fatigue and have difficulty concentrating.
Sleep apnea can cause physical and mental fatigue if it prevents you from getting enough of the deep sleep and REM stages. It is also related to other serious health problems, including:
- High blood pressure
- Heart attack
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD) and heartburn
- Morning headaches
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Chronic pain
Sleep apnea isn’t just a condition that affects adults. Children with enlarged tonsils can have an airway obstruction problem, and they may exhibit it if they snore. Some conditions that result from a sleep apnea problem in a child could include:
- Attention deficit disorder (ADD)
- Mood disorders
- Bed wetting
- Problems learning
- Growth problems
If you think that you or your partner has sleep apnea, then we invite you to visit Craniofacial Pain Center Of Colorado or your primary care doctor. You can also ask Drs. Bennett and Bieneman for a referral to a qualified sleep specialist in your area. When you are receiving sleep apnea and snoring treatment in Arvada, Colorado, then you are adding more years to your life!
Did you know that approximately 90 million Americans snore? Did you also know that snoring is not harmless and may be a symptom of more serious health problems? Studies show that snoring can indicate the presence of sleep apnea or even carotid atherosclerosis, which is plaque buildup in the main arteries of the neck that can cause stroke. Additionally, snoring can disrupt your sleep and that of your partner’s, leaving both of you feeling groggy and unrefreshed when you wake in the morning.
What causes snoring?
Your body relaxes when you sleep, which can cause your tongue to fall back and your throat muscles to narrow and become floppy. When you breathe (especially when you breathe in), the walls of your throat vibrate, which causes a snoring sound when they are narrowed in sleep. If your airway is blocked completely, then it causes a cessation of breathing that is sleep apnea. This is a serious health problem that requires treatment.
How can I stop snoring?
If you suffer from mild or occasional snoring that still allows you to wake in the mornings feeling refreshed, then you may want to try some of the following steps before visiting a doctor:
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Avoid taking sleeping pills, tranquilizers, and antihistamines before going to bed
- Avoid drinking alcohol at least four hours before going to bed
- Avoid eating heavy meals or snacks at least three hours before going to bed
- Establish regular sleeping patterns
- Try to sleep on your side rather than your back
You should visit your doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Morning headaches
- Recent weight gain
- Waking in the morning not feeling rested
- Waking at night feeling confused
- Changes in your level of attention, concentration, or memory
- Observed pauses in breathing during your sleep
If your doctor believes that your snoring is not a symptom of a more serious health problem, then we can use an oral appliance to stop you from snoring in order to help your partner get a good night’s sleep. However, we may first recommend an evaluation by a sleep specialist, ENT, or neurologist to make sure your snoring problem is not a symptom of a more serious condition.
Is it normal for my child to snore?
Children do snore occasionally, especially when they are in a deep sleep stage. However, if your child’s snoring is loud and regular, then it could be a sign of a cold, allergy, or even sleep apnea. If loud gasps for breath accompany your child’s snoring, then you may want to schedule an appointment with a pediatrician.