It’s normal to feel a bit sleepy and out of focus in the afternoon, around two o’clock. According to sleep specialist Michael J. Breus, PhD, our bodies experience a drop in core temperature mid-afternoon, a phenomenon that prompts the body to release melatonin, a naturally occurring hormone that controls sleep. However, if you spend your entire day feeling sleepy, exhausted, irritable, and unable to concentrate, you may suffer from a chronic sleep disorder such as obstructive sleep apnea. Dr. Stephen J. Burds, your Des Moines IA dentist, discusses sleep apnea and it’s most common symptoms and treatments.
The Physiology of Sleep Apnea
When you are awake, the muscles in your throat remain taut. This tautness allows for the free flow of air into and out of the body. When you sleep, your muscles relax. In a person with obstructive sleep apnea, the throat muscles relax and allow tissue to completely block the airway. These periods when breathing has completely stopped are called apneas. As the body’s oxygen level drops, the brain forces the sleeper to wake up suddenly, often with a loud choking or snorting sound. Apnea episodes can occur hundreds of times every night, meaning that many people with sleep apnea never receive the restful sleep they need.
Sleep Apnea’s Impact on Your Life
Since the sleep apnea sufferer never truly gets a good night’s rest, he or she walks through life in a state of chronic exhaustion. Common symptoms of sleep apnea induced exhaustion include:
- Chronic fatigue
- Dozing off on the job, at school, or behind the wheel
- Irritability, anxiety, and difficulty controlling emotional responses
- Difficulty dealing with stress in a healthy way
- Sexual dysfunction
Furthermore, obstructive sleep apnea can increase a person’s risk of developing systemic health problems like cardiovascular disease, strokes, and high blood pressure.
Treating Sleep Apnea
Two of the most common treatment options for sleep apnea are surgery and the use of a CPAP machine worn while sleeping. Dr. Stephen J. Burds and the Gateway Dental Group team are proud to offer an alternative to surgical intervention and bulky CPAP machines. Oral appliance therapy refers to a custom-fitted mouth piece that, when worn during sleep, positions the jaw in such a way that the airway does not become blocked. Patients who have used oral appliance therapy to treat mild to moderate sleep apnea report that within a couple of weeks of use, they experience improved energy levels during the day as their bodies get the sleep they need.
Sleep Apnea Solutions with Des Moines IA Dentist
To learn more about how a simple oral appliance can help you get a good night’s rest, schedule an appointment with your Des Moines dentist by calling Gateway Dental Group at (515) 244-9565. Located in the 50309 area, we proudly welcome patients from Des Moines, River Bend, Kirkwood Glen, East Village, and neighboring communities.