Excessive Drowsiness and Waking during the Night
May Indicate Sleep Apnea
If you wake up frequently in the night, snore heavily, or have excessive daytime drowsiness, you may want to ask your doctor about sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a common condition in which the airway becomes blocked frequently throughout the night, resulting in snoring and frequent brief awakenings. Green Gregson Family Dentistry in Metairie, LA, can diagnose and treat sleep apnea and can coordinate with your primary care physician or ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist in order to provide relief. Sleep apnea is a potentially serious condition that can have immediate and long-term health ramifications. If you are experiencing symptoms of sleep apnea, we encourage you to call (504) 849-0190 and schedule a consultation today.
Sleep apnea occurs when the soft tissues at the back of the throat collapse, limiting breathing.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly starts and stops during sleep. It occurs when the throat muscles intermittently relax and block the upper airway during sleep. Some symptoms of Sleep Apnea are snoring, daytime sleepiness, headaches, irritability, anxiety, depression, memory loss, gastric reflux, and high blood pressure.
Patients with sleep apnea can stop breathing up to hundreds of times per evening, for time periods ranging from 5 seconds to over a minute in length. While breathing is stopped, and oxygen is restricted to the heart and brain, the increased heart rate and stimulation causes the body to momentarily wake. This disruption in sleep pattern is what causes excessive daytime drowsiness and exhaustion in patients.
If left untreated, the constant strain placed on the heart and brain, coupled with poor sleep quality and duration can result in serious and dangerous complications to your overall health, including heart disease, stroke, mood disorders, and accidents related to daytime drowsiness.
What is Sleep Apnea?
There are two types of sleep apnea: OSA and central sleep apnea. Central sleep apnea is significantly less common and far more complex. It occurs when the brain does not properly regulate breathing during sleep, and requires the attention of a specialist. On the other hand, OSA occurs when muscles relax in the back of the throat during sleep. Consequently, obstructing breathing and frequently causing the body to stir in order to breathe normally again. The body has a natural reflex to wake up and restore breathing, and these awakenings are so brief that they are typically not remembered. However, they are frequent enough to make one feel tired in spite of what was perceived to be a full night’s sleep. Over time, OSA can lead to an increased risk of serious conditions such as hypertension and heart disease.
We can help you achieve the restful sleep you need.
When Should I See a Doctor?
Symptoms of sleep apnea include:
- Shortness of breath upon awakening
- Cessation of breathing witnessed by another person
- Waking up with dry mouth or sore throat
- Waking up choking or gasping for air
- Problems paying attention
Some of these symptoms may appear minor and manageable, but if they occur frequently and remain untreated, they can significantly affect your overall health. Failure to sleep restfully can quickly weaken your body’s normal functions. Patients with untreated sleep apnea have an increased chance of experiencing serious heart problems later in life.
Treating Sleep Apnea
Some minor changes to daily habits and diet may reduce or eliminate sleep apnea and its symptoms. This can include avoiding alcohol shortly before bedtime, losing weight, sleeping on your side, elevating your head while sleeping, and avoiding sedatives. Your doctor can recommend a variety of treatments based on the results of your diagnosis. Our practice offers comfortable custom oral appliances. We use advanced cone beam technology to design these mouthguards, which comfortably keep your airway open while you sleep, and often alleviate sleep apnea symptoms almost immediately.