Do you or your loved ones snore? Well, you’re not alone. Snoring is actually incredibly common with approximately 90 million Americans experiencing it every day (or should we say, every night?). There are many types of sleep disordered breathing (SDB). SDB can range from frequent loud snoringinsomnia to Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) which is a condition involving repeated episodes of partial or complete blockage of the airway during sleep. Sleep apnea is the second most diagnosed respiratory condition behind asthma.  SDB is considered to be a pandemic by the World Health Organization and an epidemic in the United States by the Center for Disease Control. The American Dental Association has placed dentists in the forefront of assessing this disease that is judged to be 90% undiagnosed.

Sleep disordered breathing can lead to and contribute to many effects on health and behavior. Untreated, it can contribute to increased heart disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, accidents, and obesity. Common symptoms are excessive daytime sleepiness, impaired cognition, decreased daytime function, and mood alterations. We all need 7-9 hours of quality sleep. Sleep disordered breathing interrupts our sleep cycle, decreases our oxygenation, and stimulates our neurology in negative ways to prevent us from having a nightly healthful healing sleep. Your likelihood of sleep disorder breathing can be assessed by your dentist and then an at home sleep study can be taken. These results will be interpreted by a board certified sleep physician who will then give a diagnosis. Treatment is most commonly a CPAP machine or an oral appliance to help maintain an open airway while you sleep.

A Word About OSA

OSA stands for Obstructive Sleep Apnea and can disturb your sleep cycle frequently throughout the night. Some signs that you might be suffering from OSA are extremely loud snoring, waking up regularly gasping for air, making choking noises in your sleep, grinding or clenching your teeth, and needing to sleep with your mouth wide open. During the day you might feel the need for naps or not feel 100%.

Being Overweight- If you’re a bit overweight, you could be lacking necessary muscle tone and have too much fatty tissue around the neck, therefore causing snoring sounds or airway obstruction.

Your Sleep Position –  Sleeping on your back can cause your airway to be narrowed and blocked by your tongue.

Congestion – When sinuses and nasal cavities are chronically blocked with mucus, breathing can become more challenging and snoring can begin.

Your Unique Body Structure – If you’ve got a cleft palate, a narrow throat,  large tongue, narrow teeth arches, or enlarged adenoids, you are more likely to be a snorer or have OSA.

Smoking, Alcohol, Caffeine, Medications, and sleep hygiene – These can all affect the quality of your sleep.

Getting Older – When most people reach middle age, their muscle tone has decreased and their throat becomes more narrow.

How to Help Yourself

Come in for a sleep assessment first. If you have sleep disordered breathing, you need professional help.

Being ready for bed- This can be many things, but for most, having your mind calm, your body relaxed, and having that sleepy feeling are a great place to start.

Sleep hygiene- Comfortable clothing, a dark room, proper use of computer and cell phones, diet, exercise, meditation are factors to consider.

Circadian rhythm- Read about how to maintain your circadian rhythm and try to get 5 minutes of sunlight first thing in the morning.

Switch your sleeping position – If you’re used to sleeping on your back, try snoozing on your side.

Clear out your nose – If your sinuses are clogged, try rinsing with saline before you head to bed.

Nasal dilators- They will expand the nostrils increasing airflow.

Lose a little weight – If you suspect that your weight gain may be contributing to your sleep breathing disorder, then it is important to shed those pounds.

If you’re concerned you might have sleep disordered breathing, give Summerland Dental a call for an exam and sleep assessment.

*Dr. Tycoliz is also a member of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM)