You’ve heard that daily exercise and heart-healthy nutrition are the most important things you can do for your cardiovascular wellness. A significant addition to the two above factors is the quality of sleep you receive every night. Sleeping well is vital for your heart’s wellbeing. Undiagnosed sleep apnea leads can put you at increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
What Is Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a severe condition that causes you to stop breathing for brief periods while you’re sleeping. People with sleep apnea don’t take in enough oxygen. Sleep Apnea causes them to gasp and frequently wake up. In numerous cases, people are oblivious that they’ve stopped breathing and believe that their sleep cycle is habitual.
There are two kinds of sleep apnea: Central Sleep Apnea and Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)
Central sleep apnea happens when the brain neglects to send the right signals to your muscles to make you start breathing.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most prevalent kind of sleep apnea. It occurs when the tongue falls back onto the soft palate. The soft palate pushes to the end of the throat, fully or partially blocking the airway. As a result, air can’t flow in or out of the nose or mouth, although you’re attempting to breathe.
People with Obstructive Sleep Apnea may not be aware that their sleep was discontinuous. Usually, people with this type of sleep apnea think they slept well all night.
The American Sleep Association reports that obstructive sleep apnea affects 25 million US adults. If left untreated, sleep apnea increases your chance of long-term health problems, such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
This blog will focus on Obstructive Sleep Apnea and teach you how to recognize and understand the warning signs and seek proper treatment.
What Triggers Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Excess weight or obesity dramatically increases the risk of sleep apnea with fat deposits around your upper airway. These deposits cause breathing difficulty at night due to narrower airways.
More men are likely to have sleep apnea than women. Nevertheless, women increase their risk if they’re overweight, and their risk also seems to rise after menopause. OSA occurs significantly more often in older adults than in children or infants.
A history of family members with sleep apnea might increase your risk.
Using substances such as alcohol, sedatives, or tranquilizers relax the throat muscles and worsen obstructive sleep apnea.
Tips To Prevent The Onset Of Sleep Apnea
Doctors generally recommend people with sleep apnea lose weight. About half the people with sleep apnea are overweight or obese. If you have some additional weight, slimming down can often improve your symptoms, even by a few pounds. Obesity, especially in the upper torso, can increase the chance of airway obstruction and narrow nasal passages. These difficulties can cause you to stop breathing abruptly or for a long time while sleeping.
Maintaining a good weight can keep your airways obstruction-free and diminish sleep apnea chances. In some cases, weight loss can wipe out sleep apnea. However, if you regain weight, the condition can return.
Lifestyle changes can enhance your health and encourage better sleeping habits. You already know that lighting up and consuming too much alcohol aren’t the best things you can do for your health.
Did you know that drinking and smoking can also make your sleep apnea symptoms worse and more critical?
Cigarette smoking aggravates swelling in your upper airway. That can exacerbate symptoms like snoring and delays in breathing. Alcohol reduces the muscle tone in the back of the throat, which can interfere with airflow.
Quitting smoking and narrowing your alcohol intake to reduce and overcome sleep apnea complications.
Melatonin is a natural hormone that helps to regulate our sleep-wake cycle. The pineal gland in the brain produces melatonin during darkness in the night. Melatonin, also known as the ‘sleep hormone’ affects the brain in various ways. One of the primary functions that melatonin accomplishes for your body is regulating its circadian rhythm to manage the natural sleep cycle. One way to increase melatonin production is to get some sunlight during the day, especially in the morning. Sunlight aids the production of serotonin, a precursor to melatonin.
Some other ways to increase melatonin production are eating foods that contain melatonin. The list includes certain fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds such as walnuts, and some grains.
During OSA episodes while you are seemingly sleeping, the muscles in your upper airway collapse and block the air passage, forcing you to awaken to take a breath. This can happen a few to hundreds of times per night, depending on your condition’s severity.
Certain yoga poses help strengthen, tone, and open the upper airway muscles, reducing sleep apnea symptoms. Yoga helps alleviate stress, thereby increasing your sleep quality. OSA harms your health by lowering oxygen levels in your blood. Yoga breathing exercises can improve oxygen levels.
Sleeping well is critical for resting your body and making it ready for the next day. Adequate sleep is an outcome of a sound sleep routine rather than a sudden slump into bed. Your sleep routine has to factor when you go to bed, the kind of bed itself, how you eat your last meal of the day, and even how you manage your TV or screen time before going to bed. All the above have a bearing on optimizing your sleep, more importantly, if you are already a prime candidate for OSA due to obesity or other reasons. Avoid looking at screens before bedtime as the light from the screens suppresses the production of the sleep controlling hormone, melatonin. Again, avoid caffeine and nicotine before bed as these are stimulants that keep you awake. Eat at least two hours before going to bed, avoiding high-fat or high-protein foods.
Sleep apnea is a potentially life-threatening condition requiring medical attention sooner rather than later. Learning to treat and manage Sleep Apnea is an essential step for protecting your long-term health.
Dr. Burton is a sleep apnea dentist dedicated to helping you regain your restful and comfortable sleep at night and better health during the day.
Dr. Burton can recommend the most suitable oral appliance for your condition. Oral appliance therapy for OSA rendered by specialist dentists is a powerful treatment option for snoring and OSA. A custom-fit oral sleep appliance can enhance your sleep, cure your alertness, and restore your health. The American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine supports oral appliances as a therapy for sleep apnea.
An oral appliance can be an excellent CPAP alternative for people who cannot tolerate CPAP for various reasons. The dental devices help with sleep apnea by keeping your airway open during sleep using different approaches and technologies.
Once your sleep apnea diagnosis receives confirmation with a sleep study, Dr. Burton can evaluate you and explore treatment options.
Call Midtowne Smiles today or complete our online appointment form to schedule an evaluation with Dr. Burton.