You are ready to settle in for the night. You had a long day, and you hope you feel rested in the morning.
Instead, you wake up in the middle of the night gasping for breath, then drift back to sleep.
In the morning, you feel nearly as tired as when you went to bed. You have a slight headache. As you are getting ready, you can’t help noticing that your spouse seems pretty irritated, too. When you ask what’s wrong, you get a stern reply.
“Your snoring kept me up all night … again!”
If you can relate to any of what we described above, then you may have sleep apnea. And if you think you might have sleep apnea, we hope you will schedule an appointment at our Fairhope, AL, dentist office. You can reach Fairhope Cosmetic Dentistry by calling 251-210-7142 or by filling out our online form.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder. Specifically, it is a condition in which someone stops breathing when he or she falls asleep. These stoppages can last from 10 seconds or more than a minute.
The severity of your sleep apnea is determined by how frequently these stoppages occur. Someone with severe sleep apnea can stop breathing more than 30 times per hour, while someone with mild sleep apnea could stop breathing up to 14 times per hour.
That means even if you have mild sleep apnea, your sleep can be interrupted more than 100 times in a night.
We say your sleep is interrupted because of how your body responds to not breathing. It wakes you up so you can and do take some breaths. Most of the time, this is so brief that you don’t remember it, although occasionally you may wake up gasping for air like we described in the introduction.
Because you are waking up so frequently, you may never or rarely reach the stages of deep sleep. This can lead to sleep deprivation, which can lead to daytime sleepiness. It’s also why people with sleep apnea have double the risk of being involved in car accidents.
What Are The Risk Factors For Sleep Apnea?
It is important to point out that anyone can have sleep apnea. If you have one or more of the risk factors mentioned below, you may be more likely to have sleep apnea. However, you may have sleep apnea even if you don’t have any of the risk factors mentioned.
▶ Being overweight
When someone has obstructive sleep apnea, soft tissues can block his or her airway when he or she falls asleep. When you are carrying extra weight, this may mean you have more tissue to cause problems.
▶ Having a large neck
This can be related to carrying excess weight. For men, a large neck is considered to be 17 inches or more around. For women, a large neck is 16 inches or more in diameter.
▶ Using alcohol or other sedatives
These substances can cause the muscles in your throat to relax, which makes it easier for soft tissue to press into or block your airway.
▶ Being a smoker
Smoking can cause you to retain more fluid in your upper airway. Statistically, people who smoke are three times as likely as nonsmokers to have obstructive sleep apnea.
▶ Nasal congestion or a narrow airway
Either or both of these anatomical issues may make it more difficult for you to breathe.
▶ Family history
If sleep apnea runs in your family, you are more likely to have it, too.
▶ Being male
Fair or not, men are twice as likely as women to have sleep apnea.
▶ Getting older
Even if you don’t have sleep apnea now, you could develop it later in life.
Get Treatment For Your Sleep Apnea To Live Better
If you have sleep apnea, you aren’t just having a tough time sleeping. You are increasing your risk of other health issues such as high blood pressure, heart attacks, and strokes.
And you already know that when you don’t sleep well, it can leave you feeling fatigued the following day.
If you would like to wake up feeling refreshed in the morning, Fairhope Cosmetic Dentistry may be able to help. To schedule a consultation with one of our dentists, fill out our online form or call 251-210-7142.
We may have just the treatment you need to get a good night’s sleep.