A full, restful night’s sleep is essential for maintaining good overall health. Disruptions in sleeping patterns can cause a number of debilitating effects on your health and your day-to-day life, and these disruptions may be caused by a very serious medical condition called Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). It has been estimated that OSA affects more than 20% of healthy adults in the United States, and most of these individuals don’t even know they have it. The cause of Obstructive Sleep Apnea is typically ascribed to the blockage of oral and nasal airways during sleep, which can ultimately lead to heavy snoring and/or complete and lengthy pauses while breathing. These breathing pauses can occur multiple times during the night and have serious, and even life-threatening, health implications.
Dr. Michael Fulbright is an experienced dentist and a member of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine. He has made the treatment of sleep apnea a strong focus of his practice, and offers a range of advanced options here at Fulbright Snoring & Sleep Solutions to help patients suffering from this condition significantly reduce the threat that sleep apnea can pose on their health and their livelihoods.
The information below describes some of the greatest risks and more common symptoms associated with sleep apnea. If you have questions or concerns, or if you would like to schedule a complimentary consultation with Dr. Fulbright, please contact us today.
Obesity has been cited as the most common cause of OSA in adults. One of the reasons for the connection between obesity and sleep apnea may be that obese individuals often have an increased amount of fat in the neck, as well as an enlarged tongue and tonsils. These conditions can lead to an extra amount of pressure on the airways, resulting in blockages during sleep.
Your orofacial anatomy has a significant impact on whether you are able to achieve a healthy night’s sleep. If the tongue, soft palate, and other tissues become too relaxed or are otherwise caused to obstruct oral and nasal airways, then you are suffering from sleep apnea. This often leads to excessive snoring and dangerous pauses while breathing during sleep. Advanced sleep apnea treatment options may be necessary to maintain a healthy opening for air passages while you sleep.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea has been linked to a number of serious health risks and can lead to a variety of symptoms and effects, including:
- Extended breathing pauses during sleep
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- Sudden cardiac death
- Heart disease
- Gastric reflux (GERD)
- Driving and work-related accidents
- Morning headaches
- Weight gain
- Impaired concentration
- Memory loss
- Erectile dysfunction
It’s very important to recognize the risk factors or symptoms associated with sleep apnea since many people are unaware they have the condition unless a loved one notices something amiss during an individual’s sleeping patterns.
Establishing good “sleep hygiene” routines can be an easy way to ensure you are getting a healthy night of peaceful, uninterrupted sleep. Take a look at our Sleep Hygiene page for a detailed list of tips on how you can develop better sleeping habits that help you feel refreshed and fully rested each morning.
Learn more about sleep hygiene.
Additional Notes On the Risks of Sleep Apnea and Sleep Deprivation
Even if you do not suffer from a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea, the risks associated with general sleep deprivation can be numerous and debilitating. Not getting an adequate amount of sleep can lead to a variety of problems affecting both physical and mental health. This makes it very important to establish healthy sleeping patterns (or good “sleep hygiene” routines, as noted above) to avoid the many conditions that sleep deprivation can cause. If it is a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea that is the primary cause of concern, diagnosis and treatment along with good sleep hygiene can go a long way toward reducing serious risks to your health.
If you are consistently losing sleep no matter how hard you try, it may be time to seek a doctor’s advice as to whether you are suffering from temporary insomnia or chronic insomnia. This condition can be caused by a number of different factors, but it typically results in difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, and can also be characterized by what’s known as non-restorative, or “unrefreshing” sleep. Naturally, insomnia can have a significant effect on one’s physical, mental, and emotional health. Insomnia is usually considered chronic if it occurs three or more nights per week for a period of at least three months.
Individuals who have tried to establish good sleep hygiene routines and are still suffering from sleep deprivation or lack of quality sleep should see a doctor as soon as possible. The condition may be the result of sleep apnea or another serious health concern. With medical help, you can work toward identifying the cause and obtaining the best solution for resolving the issue.
How Much Sleep Do I Need?
In the chart below, you’ll find information on the targeted amount of sleep that is typically recommended for specific age groups:
Contact Fulbright Snoring & Sleep Solutions
Are you concerned that you or a loved one may be suffering from sleep apnea? Please contact Fulbright Snoring & Sleep Solutions today with any questions you may have, or to schedule a complimentary sleep apnea consultation.