We think it’s safe to say no one likes that they snore. And if you do snore when you sleep, likely the biggest sufferer is your partner, not you. But this nighttime annoyance could signal a disorder called sleep apnea that causes you to briefly stop breathing while you sleep—and that can lead to fairly serious health concerns if left untreated.
In the most common type of sleep apnea, known as obstructive sleep apnea, the tissues of the tongue and throat actually collapse and prevent normal breathing for several seconds. In severe cases of sleep apnea, this collapse and obstruction can occur 60 to 70 times per night. (A less common type of sleep apnea is caused by a miscommunication between the brain and the muscles that control breathing.) This disturbance in breathing during sleep interrupts the sleep cycle and can bring you out of deep sleep into a lighter, less restful kind of sleep. Because the sleep cycle cannot occur normally, you wake up feeling unrested.
Recent research has repeatedly shown the havoc poor sleep can wreak on your health—from hampering your immune system, increasing your risk for auto and work-related accidents, changing metabolic function, and raising the likelihood of heart disease. Sleep apnea specifically has been linked to high blood pressure, memory problems, weight gain, and depression. In fact, one 18-year study showed that severe obstructive sleep apnea lowers life expectancy and that those without sleep apnea are three times more likely to live longer than those with this disorder. The National Sleep Foundation reports that just as obesity is on the rise in our country, so is sleep apnea, especially among children ages 6 to 17. Over the course of a 20-year study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control, sleep-apnea-related discharges increased by more than 400 percent in that demographic.
Perhaps surprisingly, your dentist can alleviate symptoms of sleep apnea and snoring. The Schiff Dental Group can help determine whether a small dental appliance can help alleviate your snoring and help you get a good night’s rest. Find out more information here.