Most people make some noises while they sleep, including snoring from time to time. That means the occasional night of snoring is probably nothing to worry about. However, there is a serious condition called sleep apnea that involves loud snoring almost every night. If you or someone in your family is having trouble with snoring, you should have a qualified health care professional determine if it is actually sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is when the muscles that normally keep your windpipe open get too relaxed during sleep. This lets your windpipe start to collapse, which is where all of that snoring comes from. If the windpipe collapses too much, you’ll suddenly wake up feeling like you’re being suffocated. But here’s the thing: You don’t really wake up. As soon as you start to wake, the muscles get back to doing their job and you can breathe normally again. So you quickly fall back asleep — only to panic again, fall back asleep again, and so on. This can happen more than 200 times in one night, preventing you from having a full night of sleep.
If you were only losing a little bit of sleep, then this wouldn’t be a big deal. But with waking up as many as 200 times a night, you’re doing much more than just missing a little. The effects of losing all of that sleep can be devastating. People with sleep apnea tend to suffer from chronic fatigue, insomnia, headaches, and depression. You’re more likely to get distracted or fall asleep during the day, making simple tasks like driving to the grocery store much more dangerous. Studies have also linked sleep apnea to high blood pressure, heart problems, and hormone imbalances. And if your loud snoring is keeping someone you love awake, they could be suffering as well.
How can you tell if your snoring is really sleep apnea? The only real way to tell is through a sleep study. This is where you’ll sleep while monitored by a doctor or technician, who will keep track of how well you sleep, how often you wake up, and so on. If you are snoring a lot all the time, then please contact your physician and ask to have a sleep study done.
Although dentists focus on your teeth and gums, some like Dr. Cornell are also trained to help with other issues such as TMJ pain or sleep apnea. Once you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea by your physician, our Tulsa, OK dental office can design a special dental appliance similar to a bite guard that will help. This device shifts your jaw just enough to help keep your muscles and windpipe doing their job while you sleep.
Sleep apnea can lead to depression, exhaustion, and even heart problems. If you or someone you love snores loudly almost every night, please visit your physician for a sleep study. And if you have sleep apnea, call us or email us today to schedule your next appointment so we can get you help and let you rest soundly again.