A good night’s sleep is vital for our overall well-being, playing a significant role in the restoration of our physical and mental health. During sleep, our bodies undergo essential processes, including tissue repair, muscle growth, and the release of growth hormones. Sleep also helps in maintaining a healthy mind—supporting cognitive functions such as memory consolidation, emotional regulation, and creative problem-solving. However, sleep apnea can hinder achieving quality rest, leaving you, and your body’s functions, depleted.
At Aliana Family Dentistry, our compassionate and knowledgeable Sugar Land, TX providers are here to help you overcome this condition and enjoy a restful night’s sleep.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a prevalent sleep disorder characterized by repeated interruptions in breathing during sleep. These interruptions, called apneas, can last anywhere from a few seconds to minutes and can occur up to hundreds of times per night. There are three main types of sleep apnea:
- Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA): This is the most common type, affecting millions of people worldwide. OSA occurs when the muscles in the throat relax, causing the airway to narrow or close, leading to a temporary cessation of breathing. OSA is often associated with obesity, aging, and other anatomical factors.
- Central sleep apnea (CSA): This type is less common and happens when the brain fails to transmit the proper signals to the muscles that control breathing. As a result, the individual stops breathing momentarily. CSA can be associated with heart failure, stroke, or the use of certain medications.
- Complex sleep apnea: Also known as treatment-emergent central sleep apnea, this type occurs when someone has both obstructive and central sleep apnea. It is typically discovered when a person undergoing treatment for OSA, such as with a CPAP machine, continues to experience apneas caused by central sleep apnea.
The Dangers Of The Condition
Untreated sleep apnea poses numerous health risks, including:
- High blood pressure: The repeated awakenings caused by sleep apnea can lead to hormonal changes that increase blood pressure, contributing to hypertension.
- Heart problems: Sleep apnea can result in a higher risk of heart attack, atrial fibrillation, and stroke due to the strain on the cardiovascular system.
- Diabetes: Sleep apnea increases insulin resistance, contributing to the development of diabetes.
- Metabolic syndrome: Sleep apnea is linked to metabolic syndrome, a cluster of risk factors that increase the likelihood of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
- Liver problems: People with sleep apnea are more likely to have abnormal liver function tests and liver scarring.
- Compromised mental well-being: Sleep apnea can lead to depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders due to chronic sleep deprivation.
- Poor work performance and increased risk of accidents: Fatigue, irritability, and difficulty concentrating can result in decreased productivity and a higher likelihood of car accidents or workplace injuries.
Signs Of Sleep Apnea
Some common signs of sleep apnea include:
- Loud, persistent snoring
- Gasping, choking, or snorting during sleep
- Frequent awakenings or restless sleep
- Insomnia or difficulty staying asleep
- Morning headache or dry mouth
- Daytime fatigue or excessive sleepiness
- Difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness, or irritability
Diagnosing Sleep Apnea
If you suspect you have sleep apnea, it is essential to consult with a healthcare professional, such as a sleep specialist, or take a sleep test. At Aliana Family Dentistry, we do not diagnose sleep apnea; however, we can guide you toward appropriate resources for diagnosis and provide treatment.
Treating Sleep Apnea
There are various treatment options for sleep apnea, depending on the severity and type of the condition. These may include:
- Lifestyle changes: Losing weight, avoiding alcohol, quitting smoking, and maintaining a regular sleep schedule can help alleviate sleep apnea symptoms.
- Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP): A CPAP machine delivers a constant flow of air through a mask, helping to keep the airway open during sleep. This is one of the most common treatments for moderate to severe OSA.
- Oral appliances: Custom-fitted dental devices can help maintain an open airway by repositioning the lower jaw and tongue during sleep. These are typically used for mild to moderate OSA and are considerably less invasive than CPAP.
- Surgery: Various surgical procedures can help treat sleep apnea by removing excess tissue, correcting structural abnormalities, or implanting devices that stimulate the nerves controlling the airway muscles. Generally, surgery is only recommended if other options have proven ineffective.
Our team can work with you to determine the most suitable treatment plan. If we do not offer the treatment you need, we can help connect you with the right provider.
At Aliana Family Dentistry, our providers are dedicated to helping patients regain control of their lives by enjoying a full night of sleep. Our team is committed to ensuring optimal results, so you can wake up feeling refreshed and rejuvenated every day. Don’t let sleep apnea hold you back—contact us today to discuss how we can help you achieve the restful sleep you deserve.