Snoring? Sleep Apnea?

Unless your partner is intruppting your sleep, most of us don’t think of snoring as something to be overly concerned about. Frequent, loud snoring may be a sign of sleep apnea, a common and potentially serious disorder in which breathing often stops and starts when you sleep. Although sleep apnea is treatable, it often goes unrecognized. Learning how to identify the warning signs, how to distinguish it from normal snoring, is the first step to overcoming sleep apnea and getting a good night’s sleep.

So what is Sleep Aponea?

Sleep apnea affects the way you breathe when you’re sleeping. In untreated sleep apnea, breathing is briefly interrupted or becomes very shallow during sleep. These breathing pauses typically last between 10 to 20 seconds and can occur up to hundreds of times a night, jolting you out of your natural sleep rhythm. As a consequence, you spend more time in LIGHT sleep and less time in DEEP sleep ( the restorative sleep you need to be energetic, mentally sharp, and productive the next day).

This sleep deprivation due to Sleep Apnea not only results in daytime sleepiness, slow reflexes, poor concentration and an increased risk of accidents, BUT can also lead to serious health problems over time, including diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and weight gain.

With treatment you can control the symptoms, get your sleep back on track, and start enjoy being refreshed and alert every day again.

What happens to your body with Sleep Apnea?

As continuous airflow stops, the oxygen level in your blood drops. Your brain responds by briefly disturbing your sleep enough to kick start breathing, which often resumes with a gasp or a choking sound.

If you have sleep apnea, you probably won’t remember these awakenings. Most of the time, you’ll stir just enough to tighten your throat muscles and open your windpipe. Only in severe cases of sleep apnea, you may be conscious of your awakenings.

Signs and Symptoms

The signs and symptoms are wide and varied. Some sufferers don’t exhibit all of the symptoms, however will usually experience one or more of the following:

  • · Snoring
  • · Episodes of gasping, snorting or choking during sleep
  • · Excessive daytime sleepiness, fatigue or lethargy
  • · Lack of energy and endurance
  • · Falling asleep or needing to have a nap during the day
  • · Disturbed or restless sleep (OSA sometimes causes insomnia)
  • · Poor memory and concentration
  • · Morning headaches
  • · Dry mouth or sore throat upon waking
  • · Irritability, depression, anxiety, mood and behaviour changes (including ADHD in children)
  • · Rapid weight gain or difficulty in losing weight

Risk Factors

Some of the common risk factors for obstructive sleep apnoea include:

*Obesity (especially obesity around the abdomen and neck) – but remember, sleep apnoea can also occur in people who are not overweight or obese.

*Large neck circumference (>43cm for men and >40cm for women).

*Age over 65 years (although OSA affects individuals of all ages, including children and adolescents).

*Family history of OSA or sleep-disordered breathing.

*Certain facial abnormalities, including a high, narrow, elongated, soft palate, a small chin, an abnormal bite and a small jaw.

*Cigarette smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.

*Medications, especially sedatives at night.

How To Assess if you have sleep apnea?

1.Do you snore more than three nights a week?

2. Is your snoring loud (can it be heard through a door or wall)?

3. Has anyone ever told you that you briefly stop breathing or gasp when you are sleeping?

4. What is your collar size? Is it over >43cm for men and >40cm for women?

5. Have you had high blood pressure, or are you being treated for it?

6. Do you ever doze or fall asleep during the day when you are not busy or active?

7. Do you ever doze or fall asleep during the day when you are driving or stopped at a light?

If your answer to most of these questions is yes then
….See a doctor immediately!

Sleep apnea can be a serious disorder, so contact a doctor if you spot the warning signs.

An official diagnosis of sleep apnea may require seeing a sleep specialist and taking a home-based sleep test using a portable monitor, or an overnight stay at a sleep clinic.

Anti-Snoring Device

Is it just snoring or is it sleep apnea?

Not everyone who snores has sleep apnea, and not everyone who has sleep apnea    snores. So how do you tell the difference between normal snoring and a more serious  case of sleep apnea?

The biggest telltale sign is how you feel during the day. Normal snoring doesn’t interfere with the quality of your sleep as much as sleep apnea does, so you’re less likely to suffer from extreme fatigue and sleepiness during the day.

How to Stop Snoring

Even if you don’t have sleep apnea, a snoring problem can get in the way of your bed partner’s rest and affect your own sleep quality and health. But there are plenty of tips and treatments that can help.

Self-help Tips

While a diagnosis of sleep apnea can be scary, it is a treatable condition. In fact, there are many things you can do on your own to help, particularly for mild to moderate sleep apnea. Home remedies and lifestyle modifications can go a long way in reducing sleep apnea symptoms.

The importance of weight loss

People who are overweight have extra tissue in the back of their throat, which can fall down over the airway and block the flow of air into the lungs while they sleep.
Though losing weight is easier said than done, it can yield real results. If people lose weight, it would make both sleep apnea and other health problems [such as heart disease] go away. Losing just 10% of body weight can have a big effect on sleep apnea symptoms. In some cases, losing a significant amount of weight can even cure the condition.

Other lifestyle changes that can help sleep apnea include:

  • Quit smoking; Smoking is believed to contribute to sleep apnea by increasing inflammation and fluid retention in your throat and upper airway.
  • Avoiding alcohol, Sleeping pills and Sedatives; especially before bedtime as they relax the muscles in the throat and interfere with breathing.
  • Avoiding caffeine and heavy meals within two hours of going to bed.
  • Maintain regular sleep hours; Sticking to a steady sleep schedule will help you relax and sleep better. Apnea episodes decrease when you get plenty of sleep.

Bedtime tips for preventing sleep apnea

  • Sleep on your side. Avoid sleeping on your back, as gravity makes it more likely for your tongue and soft tissues to drop and obstruct your airway.
  • Prop your head up. Elevate the head of your bed by four to six inches or elevate your body from the waist up by using a foam wedge. You can also use a special cervical pillow.
  • Open your nasal passages. Try to keep your nasal passages open at night using a nasal dilator, saline spray and breathing strips.

Throat exercises to reduce sleep apnea

Throat exercises may reduce the severity of sleep apnea by strengthening the muscles in the airway, making them less likely to collapse. Try these exercises:

  1. Press your tongue flat against the floor of your mouth and brush top and sides with a toothbrush. Repeat brushing movement five times, three times a day.
  2. Press the length of your tongue to roof of your mouth and hold for three minutes a day.
  3. Place a finger into one side of your mouth. Hold the finger against your cheek while pulling the cheek muscle in at same time. Repeat 10 times, rest, and then alternate sides. Repeat this sequence three times.
  4. Purse your lips as if to kiss. Hold your lips tightly together and move them up and to the right, then up and to the left 10 times. Repeat this sequence three times.
  5. Place your lips on a balloon. Take a deep breath through your nose then blow out through your mouth to inflate the balloon as much as possible. Repeat this five times without removing balloon from your mouth.

Medical treatment options for sleep apnea

1.For mild and moderate sleep Apnea: Dental devices

Most dental devices are acrylic and fit inside your mouth, much like an athletic mouthguard. Two common oral devices are the mandibular repositioning device and the tongue retaining device. These devices open your airway by bringing your lower jaw or your tongue forward during sleep. Dental devices are effective for mild to moderate sleep apnea.
You will need to bring your sleep Apnea guard with you to your regular appointments to have your dentist adjust the mouthpiece for continual fit and maximum effect.

2.For moderate and severe Sleep Apnea: Continuous Positive Airflow Pressure (CPAP)

This is the most common treatment for moderate-severe obstructive sleep apnea. The CPAP device is a mask-like machine that you wear while sleeping to provide a constant stream of air that keeps your breathing passages open while you sleep. Basically it blows a constant stream of air into the mask.

Whichever option you chose it’s important to continue treating your sleep apnea via these devices and not stop treatment. Stopping treatment is detrimental to your long term health.

For more information or to have a sleep apnea mouthguard made for you click here or  contact us in Brisbane at Dental On Park.

Call us on 33698300 or book an appointment online.