World Sleep Day

How did you sleep last night? Today is World Sleep Day which means we take a look at the importance of sleep for our health and well-being.

Sleep problems are very common. People complain that they can’t get to sleep because they have insomnia. Some people fall asleep but then wake up a few hours later and can’t return to sleep. Other’s feel like they are getting a full night of sleep but don’t understand why they are so sleepy during the day. Those folks are probably suffering from obstructive sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea causes the sleeper to literally stop breathing during sleep. When the brain notices that oxygen levels are dropping it briefly wakens the sleeper to begin breathing again. Interestingly, the sleeper doesn’t remember these brief wakings the next morning. Even more amazing, depending upon the severity of the sleep apnea, this can happen hundreds of times each night. No wonder sleep apnea patients feel so exhausted! They never get to experience a full night of rest without interruption.

Untreated sleep apnea has been linked to high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, diabetes and pre-mature death. The treatment that is usually prescribed for sleep apnea patients is called CPAP, or Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. This is basically a small air compressor that pushes air through a hose and into a mask that is worn at night. It isn’t surprising that about half of patients can’t tolerate sleeping with the masks and hoses or find the side effects of sore throats and eye infections too annoying. CPAP therapy is a wonderful way of treating sleep apnea — but only if you can use it comfortably.

There is another way to keep the airway open during sleep.  A dentist with special training in the treatment of sleep apnea can create an oral appliance that places the jaw in a position that keeps the airway from collapsing. Do not confuse these devices with the late night TV ads for snoring devices. Sleep apnea can be a life threatening condition and the only effective oral appliance needs to be custom created in a lab and adjusted over time to properly treat sleep apnea symptoms.

Find out if you are a candidate for oral appliance therapy by contacting Dr. John Highsmith in Clyde, NC today at 828-627-9282.

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Posted in: Obstructive Sleep Apnea

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