August 5, 2016
“Hey, wake up.”
You feel someone shaking you.
You nodded off at your desk again. This is embarrassing. How long have you been asleep?
You look at the clock. It’s nearly time to go home, and you just can’t seem to stay aware.
You’ve been fighting it all afternoon. You’ve grabbed one of those energy shots from your desk. You need to stay awake during your drive home, but you also worry that you are becoming too reliant on caffeine to keep you alert.
You wonder if it’s making it harder for you to sleep at night.
That’s possible. It’s also possible that you are dealing with sleep apnea, a sleep disorder that can leave you feeling sleep deprived.
We have more to say about sleep apnea, but the staff at our dentist office also wants you to know that treatment is possible. If you live in or near Salem, OR, you can contact Oregon Smile Care Center to get help.
Why You Feel Tired
People with sleep apnea often struggle with daytime sleepiness for a simple reason. When you have untreated sleep apnea, you aren’t getting the healthy sleep that you need.
Here’s why: you can’t breathe when you fall asleep.
The most common reason for this is a direct result of your muscles relaxed when you are sleeping. This can allow tissue to block your airways.
When this is a partial blockage, it can restrict the flow of air and amplify the sound of snoring. Loud, persistent snoring happens to be one of the biggest symptoms of sleep apnea.
When the blockage is complete, you can stop breathing for up to 30 seconds at a time. This can happen several times every hour. With mild sleep apnea, you may stop breathing up to 14 times an hour. With moderate sleep apnea, you may stop breathing up to 29 times per hour.
People with severe sleep apnea stop breathing 30 or more times every hour.
Your body’s natural response is to do what it can to keep you alive. Since you stop breathing when you fall asleep, your body will wake you up. Most of the time this is just long enough for you to take a few breaths and doze off again.
However, you may recall waking up on more than one occasion gasping for breath.
As a result of this constant waking, you remain in a state of light sleep. This is bad.
According to health experts, we need deep sleep to recuperate and recover. Without deep sleep, we feel sleep deprived.
This explains why you fall asleep at your desk, and it can help to explain why people with untreated sleep apnea are more than twice as likely as people without sleep apnea to be the driver in an automobile accident.
We don’t want to scare you, but we do want to help.
Treating Sleep Apnea
Before you can treat your sleep apnea, you need to complete a screening to confirm that you have it. (Sleep apnea is not the only sleep disorder that can lead to sleep deprivation.) We can provide you with a take-home screening to track your sleep patterns.
If your sleep apnea is confirmed, one possible treatment is a CPAP. This is a continuous positive airway pressure machine.
To you it, you will wear a mask as you sleep. This mask will cover your nose or your mouth and nose. This allows the machine to push air into your airways. This creates pressure to keep your airways open, and that allows you to keep breathing.
For some people, this is a great solution. For other people, the CPAP creates new problems.
The mask may irritate their face. The sound of the machine may keep them awake. The tube that connects the machine and the mask can cause other problems.
Unfortunately, this causes many people to give up on their CPAP, which means they aren’t treating their condition.
At our office, we have an alternative. Instead of a machine and a mask, we can create a mouthpiece that you can wear while your sleep. This is called a TAP (Thornton Adjustable Positioner) appliance.
It works by shifting your jaw forward, which assists in keeping your airways open. As you get accustomed to wearing it, you should find that you are snoring less, sleeping longer, and waking up feeling refreshed.
Call Us Today
Oregon Smile Care Center wants to help you any way that we can.
If you are concerned that you may have sleep apnea, we can help you schedule a screening. If you know that you have sleep apnea but a CPAP isn’t working for you, then we can create a TAP as an alternative.