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It can raise your risk of being in a traffic accident.
It can increase your risk of a heart attack.
It can create problems for you at work and at home.
And it can leave you feeling fatigued.
What is it? It’s sleep apnea. It’s a serious condition, and it’s one that the dentists — yes, dentists — of Sunrise Dental can help you treat.
We have offices in Durham, Raleigh, Cary, and Chapel Hill. If you live in or near the Research Triangle, it may time to make an appointment.
Don’t Deprive Yourself Of Sleep
The name sleep apnea is somewhat misleading. It is a sleep disorder that prevents you from getting deep, healthy sleep.
Health experts consider deep sleep to be essential for recovery. People with untreated sleep apnea are not getting enough of this deep sleep — if they are getting any at all!
Sleep professionals have described sleep as a cyclical process. Throughout the night, people who get healthy sleep go through four stages.
The first stage is when you are just starting to fall asleep. The second stage is light sleep. At this time, your body is starting to prepare for deep sleep, but you can still be woken up fairly easily.
The third stage is the start of deep sleep. At this point, your heart rate and your breathing have slowed. It’s more difficult to wake up someone while they are in deep sleep. The final stage is REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. This also is part of deep sleep, and it’s the time when people are most likely to dream.
Without deep sleep, you may feel sleep deprived. Here are some signs of sleep deprivation:
◼︎ Having trouble concentrating
◼︎ Being accident prone
◼︎ Becoming irritated easily
◼︎ Feeling sleepy throughout the day
How Sleep Apnea Causes Sleep Deprivation
A person with sleep apnea stops breathing when he or she falls asleep.
It’s not good for anyone’s health to stop breathing anytime. So what keeps people with sleep apnea alive? They wake themselves up.
Their brains recognize that something is wrong, and in response, they wake up just long enough to take a few breaths.
For someone with mild sleep apnea, this may happen four times every hour. Someone with severe sleep apnea may wake up 30 or more times every hour.
Even if you are only waking yourself up every 15 minutes, you rarely get to the stages of deep sleep. If you are waking up every two minutes, you are barely getting any kind of sleep.
Other Symptoms Of Sleep Apnea
You may have realized that sleep apnea is not the only thing that can cause sleep deprivation.
Too much caffeine before you go to bed can make it hard to fall asleep, and sleep apnea is just one of many sleep disorders.
What are the other symptoms that could indicate that your sleep deprivation is linked to sleep apnea?
The most recognizable symptom is snoring. Now, everyone snores from time to time. However, people with sleep apnea snoring almost constantly and usually very loudly. (Just ask their spouses.)
This is a particular problem for individuals with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which happens to be the most common form of this disorder.
The reason people with OSA have trouble sleeping is because their airways become blocked when they fall asleep. This can amplify the sound of their snoring … until their airways become completely blocked and they stop breathing, wake up, and start the cycle all over again.
People with sleep apnea often wake up feeling out of breath or with a dry mouth. In the morning, you may have frequent headaches, too.
High blood pressure also is common among people with sleep apnea. One hypothesis is a result of your body’s fight to keep you breathing throughout the night. It also helps to explain why people with sleep apnea also have an increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, and cardiovascular disease.
Why You Should Make An Appointment At Sunrise Dental
If you suspect that you may have sleep apnea, our dentists can refer you to a sleep lab to determine if you have this or another sleep disorder. If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea, then we can assist with your treatment.
The key to treating OSA is keeping your airways open so you breathe throughout the night. We can help by creating a special mouthpiece that you can wear while you sleep. This will adjust the position of your jaw to keep your airways open.
We have dentist offices in four locations in and near the Research Triangle. Call us today or fill out our online form to make an appointment.