You want to be and feel your best. You exercise. You go to bed at a decent time. You even take the time to shop for good, fresh foods and prepare body-boosting meals for your family.
But if you aren’t getting the right kind of rest, no matter what you do, no matter how hard you try, you just aren’t going to be your best self. In fact, if you snore or have sleep apnea, you might not just be missing sleep, you might be missing oxygen as well – and that is bad news for you – and those around you.
Risking your sleep = Risking your Life
When you are sleep and oxygen deprived – the way sleep apnea sufferers are – you are not only tired, you are a danger to yourself and others.
- Driving sleep deprived is as dangerous as driving drunk – over 250,000 motorists fall asleep at the wheel, causing an annual average of 8,000 deaths and 60,000 debilitating injuries
- Sleep apnea has been shown to increase the risk of cognitive impairment or dementia
- Sleep apnea triggers the fight or flight response with each episode putting severe stress on your body and leading to higher cortisol levels
- This constant fight or flight response can also lead to heart attacks
- Sudden death during sleep is more likely in sleep apnea patients
- Because oxygen levels fall during sleep apnea episode, the blood vessels in your brain dilate, increasing your chance of clotting and stroke
- A lack of oxygen has been linked with an increased risk for the development of cancerous tumors
- The noise of sleep apnea causes bed partners to suffer from a lack of sleep leading to crankiness, a lack of alertness, and even depression
So Much More Than Snoring
What Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
Apnea. It’s a funny word, but absolutely nothing to laugh at! Derived from the Greek word apnoia, it literally means “without breath.” That’s right. Sleep apnea is when your breathing stops while you are asleep – and that is as serious as it sounds.
Because sleep apnea stops you from breathing, sometimes hundreds of times a night and for up to two minutes at a time, it causes a drop in blood oxygen levels. Your body realizes it could die from lack of oxygen, the fight or flight startle response is triggered, and with a gasp, you wake up. This process places a lot of stress on your heart and raises blood pressure. In addition, the adrenaline released affects cortisol levels – and a cortisol imbalance can lead to dramatic weight gain!
Sleep apnea also keeps you from properly entering REM sleep, the most restorative stage of nightly sleep. Without REM sleep, the brain begins to function less optimally, affecting your memory, your ability to recognize mistakes, your mood, your ability to cope with stress, and even the way you process pain.
A study by the Institute of Medicine reports that 50 to 70 million Americans suffer from disorders of sleep and wakefulness. The American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine notes that over 18 Million Americans have OSA.
Although there are many different ways to treat sleep apnea, we work with your physicians to help treat you with the two most common therapies.
Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT) - Oral appliance therapy is a treatment for snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. It involves wearing a removable oral appliance in your mouth as you sleep. The devicefits much like a sports mouth guard or orthodontic retainer
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) - Patients with obstructive sleep apnea treated with CPAP wear a face mask during sleep which is connected to a pump (CPAP machine) that forces air into the nasal passages at pressures high enough to overcome obstructions in the airway and stimulate normal breathing.