If your partner has ever complained about your loud snoring, you may have sleep apnea. Sleep apnea occurs when a person stops breathing while sleeping.
Sleep apnea is divided into falls into two main forms: obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and central sleep apnea (CSA). In OSA, the soft palate or other parts of the mouth and throat collapse against the trachea, cutting off the airway. This type is the most common and often results in snoring. OSA affects an estimated 22 million people in the United States.
CSA isn’t as common, and it occurs when the brain neglects to send signals to the lungs to breathe. Both types cause a myriad of health problems. Left untreated, sleep apnea can actually shorten your life.
Sleep apnea can contribute to a number of health problems, including the following:
Because sleep apnea disrupts slumber, you don’t get the rest you need during the night. This means you feel tired during the day, which leads to poor concentration, headaches, and mood shifts. Fatigue also contributes to car accidents because of sleepiness behind the wheel.
Loss of sleep may also pack on the pounds. Studies at the Mayo Clinic show that poor sleep causes the body to produce more ghrelin and less leptin. Ghrelin is the hormone that tells the body to eat and leptin is the hormone that tells the body it’s full and to stop eating. Too much ghrelin means you’re constantly hungry. Weight gain makes sleep apnea worse, which, in turn, causes more weight gain. This can become a vicious cycle.
Type 2 diabetes
Increased weight and the abnormal hormone levels can contribute to the development of Type 2 diabetes by causing alterations in blood glucose metabolism. Studies show that people with sleep apnea have higher blood sugar levels and more insulin resistance, both of which are symptoms of diabetes.
High blood pressure
A lack of sleep forces the body to work harder while you’re awake. Every part of the body struggles to keep up without enough sleep, even the heart, lungs, and blood vessels. Over time, blood pressure goes up, adding to the risk of stroke. In addition, when a person struggles to breathe at night and blood oxygen levels drop, it can cause risky or even fatal events in people with heart disease.
When you don’t get enough rest, you get tired. Your heart is no different. When the heart doesn’t get the rest it needs at night, it gets tired too. Heart fatigue forces the muscles to work harder, which may contribute to different kinds of heart problems, such as abnormal heart rhythms and heart enlargement, which may lead to congestive heart failure.
The good news
Thankfully, there are several ways to treat sleep apnea. CPAP machines force air into your nose while you sleep, preventing the throat from collapsing. But many people have trouble tolerating CPAP machines and come to us for oral appliances. These are more comfortable and convenient for nightly wear. They hold the tongue and jaw in place to prevent sleep apnea and snoring, giving you and your partner a quiet night’s sleep.
If you think you or your partner have sleep apnea, our team at Chester Family Dentistry can help you determine what’s the best treatment, so you can both get back to sweet dreams. Call our office in Warren, Ohio, or book an appointment online.