Sleep apnea occurs when your breathing stops and starts multiple times throughout the night. The most common form of sleep apnea is called obstructive sleep apnea and occurs when the muscles at the back of your throat relax during sleep, blocking your airway and preventing normal breathing function.
When your throat becomes blocked during sleep, your diaphragm and chest muscles have to work harder to open the airways and enable breathing. This activity creates disruptions in your sleep patterns. You might not wake up fully during those disruptions, but your body isn’t getting continuous, restful sleep.
Knowing the signs of sleep apnea can help you know when to seek medical care. Some indications that sleep apnea may be present include:
In many cases, the first sign a person has sleep apnea is complaints from their sleep partner, as the nighttime symptoms of sleep apnea also tend to disrupt the partner’s rest as well as your own.
Your chances of developing sleep apnea increase if you are overweight or obese, have chronic nasal congestion, are above the age of 60, or have diabetes.
One way to treat sleep apnea is by wearing a custom-fitted oral device that alters the position of your jaw during sleep. These oral appliances help keep your throat open during the night, improving breathing and helping you get uninterrupted rest.
It can take some time to get used to wearing an oral sleep apnea appliance, but your body will adjust, and putting in your device will soon become part of your normal nighttime routine.
Positive airway pressure can also help treat sleep apnea. This approach uses continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) delivered through a mask worn over the nose during sleep. The system delivers gentle airflow that ensures you get the oxygen your body needs while asleep.
Lifestyle modifications can also go a long way toward treating sleep apnea. If you are a smoker, overweight, have diabetes, or have other conditions that are interfering with nighttime breathing, making meaningful changes can improve your sleep and your overall health and wellness.
Don’t accept poor sleep quality as inevitable when there are treatments that can help. Call the office to book a visit today, or use the online scheduling tool to find a time that fits your busy schedule.