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Sleep Apnea – Try Low Tech Solutions Before Expensive Treatment

Updated: Mar 15

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is very common. Around 20 million Americans have it, many cases of which are unfortunately undiagnosed. Many with the disorder experience only mild symptoms, so much so that they may never notice. However, many other sufferers experience severe, even debilitating symptoms.

The word apnea comes from the Greek apnoia, meaning “breathless”. People who suffer from sleep apnea stop breathing in their sleep, often many times in a single night. Since the pauses are brief, they never reach full consciousness, and therefore are often unaware of any problem.

There are three types of sleep apnea: obstructive, central, and a combination of the two. Obstructive is by far the most common – obstructive and mixed together account for around 99.6% of cases. For more information about the differences between obstructive and central, check out our sleep apnea page.

The big problem with sleep apnea is that it cuts the amount of oxygen reaching the brain during sleep. This has serious and wide ranging consequences. Sufferers often wake up feeling unrested, even when they believe they got a full night of sleep. It diminishes focus, raises blood pressure, contributes to depression, worsens diabetes and ADHD, and can cause headaches and even a stroke.

While 1 in 22 Americans are known to have Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), the undiagnosed population is believed to be twice that number.

OSA is an epidemic linked to these risk factors:

  • Obesity

  • Aging

  • Alcohol consumption

  • Smoking

  • High Blood Pressure

  • Menopause – with estrogen depletion

Consequences of OSA include:

  • Heart attack

  • Stroke

  • High blood pressure

Before you try sleep apnea treatment, try these low tech solutions. You don’t need a CPAP or costly sleep study to try and correct your own sleep disorder with these simple solutions.

  • Stay on schedule – Train you body to go to sleep at the same time every night

  • Clean your bedroom – A cluttered room is a sign of a cluttered mind, the enemy of sleep

  • Get some exercise – An aerobic workout is proven to help you sleep

  • Make a list – After you write it down you won’t have to stay awake remembering it.

  • Stop worrying about it – Worrying about the sleep your not getting or how you’ll feel in the morning will only keep you awake.

  • Get up – After you toss and turn for 20 minutes or so, get up and do a quiet activity, not TV or Internet though. The lights will inhibit melatonin and keep you awake even more.

  • Ignore the clock – Checking the clock will make you more anxious about the sleep you’re not getting. The alarm will go off soon enough. Practice mediation or deep breathing instead.

Sleep Disorders & Power Napping

Neurologists treating sleep disorders and sleep apnea have determined that most people need 7 -8 hours sleep a night. Studies of patients with sleep disorders have proven that taking a power nap around 1:00 – 2:00 in the afternoon can minimize the effects of sleep deficits caused by sleep apnea. The recommended nap is only 20-40 minutes long. Longer than that can cause excessive drowsiness.

Sleep Apnea & Drowsy Driving

Sleep disorders like sleep apnea and snoring are now rated as the leading cause of car crashes. This is more than drunk driving. Many states have laws against drowsy driving similar to drunk driving laws. Data newly available suggests that a drowsy driver has a 700% increase in chances of experiencing a car crash compared to an alert driver. Sleep apnea treatment can lessen incidence of drowsy driving. Sometimes CPAP and BiPAP is necessary, but many patients sleep better with simple dental appliances or sleep hygiene.

Dental appliances can also be extremely effective in cases of mild to moderate OSA.

Recognizing Sleep Apnea

Before you can treat it, you have to know it’s there. With this in mind, Dr. Abeyta is a member of a growing group of dental professionals who have training in treating the signs and symptoms of sleep apnea in their patients. Choosing a dentist with this kind of training could save you from very serious health issues down the road.

Treating Sleep Apnea

The most common treatment is a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. Just as the name implies, a CPAP raises the pressure in your airway just enough to prevent your throat from closing during sleep, thereby preventing apneas. There are other treatments that may be appropriate depending on the severity of the disorder, ranging from appliances worn during sleep to surgical procedures designed to open the airway.

Sleep Apnea And Bruxism

Untreated OSA can increase your risk of high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, acid reflux, diabetes and has been linked to teeth grinding, also known as Bruxism.

Teeth grinding, affects millions of people and normally occurs while you sleep.  This makes it difficult to diagnose. 

Do you ever wake up with a sore jaw, headache, tender teeth or stiff neck? The National Sleep Foundation has found that approximately 25 percent of people with OSA also show signs of sleep Bruxism.

Similar results were found in studies using polysomnography, a type of in-depth sleep study completed in specially designed clinics. The clinics closely monitor the subjects as opposed to other studies that depend on surveys of self-noted sleep apnea or teeth grinding subjects. So, how does your dentist fit into the picture?

Specially trained dental professionals, like Dr. Snyder, can be a valuable asset in the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea.  Once diagnosed, a dentist can help you understand the disorder and treatment options.

A dentist can check the patient’s mouth, teeth, and jaw to determine whether they are a good fit for a mandibular advancement device.

A comprehensive dentist can recommend life changes such as diet and exercise to help improve the quality of sleep and the patience overall health. 

A dentist can work closely with their patients to make sure their oral appliance is working and improving their condition.  Patients who are regularly monitored have proven to get the best results.

To find out more about the dental services offered by our dentist in Albuquerque NM, Dr. Snyder, call (505)-293-7611, schedule an online consultation or visit us at 4830 Juan Tabo Blvd. NE, Ste. K, Albuquerque, NM, 87111.



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