What good is getting a good night’s sleep if you don’t feel the effects of it the next day? If you get what should be sufficient rest, but don’t feel rested, you could have a sleep disorder involving your breathing known as sleep apnea.
Although snoring is the most common (and audible) hallmark of sleep apnea, you may not be aware that you snore. Grogginess is another common symptom of sleep apnea, which — if left untreated — could seriously impair your health and even shorten your life.
Dana J. Rockey, DMD — expert dentist, lifestyle coach, and founder of South County Sleep Solutions — evaluates and treats sleep apnea at his office in Newport Beach, California. If you suffer from daytime grogginess, here are some other signs that you’d benefit from sleep apnea evaluation and treatment.
Sleep apnea is more than snoring
When you have sleep apnea, something inhibits your ability to breathe continuously through the night. The word apnea refers to an actual pause in your breathing. If you have sleep apnea, you could stop breathing hundreds of times a night.
Your body needs sleep so that it can flush out toxins from the brain and other organs. Sleep also gives your organs and all of the cells in your body time to rest and repair themselves. But to do that, they need a plentiful and continuous supply of oxygen.
When your sleep is interrupted, and your body doesn’t receive the oxygen it needs to repair cellular damage, you can’t completely recover from your previous day’s activities.
Common symptoms of sleep apnea include:
- Gagging in your sleep
- Waking up multiple times
- Feeling sleepy during the day
- Falling asleep at the wheel
- Experiencing brain fog
- Feeling angry, irritated, or moody
If you struggle with your energy levels and mood, or if you experience daytime drowsiness, consult Dr. Rockey for a sleep apnea evaluation.
Grogginess is dangerous
If you drive or operate machinery for your job, daytime grogginess can easily lead to an accident. In fact, the National Safety Council estimates that about 5,000 auto accidents per year are caused by drowsy driving.
Grogginess is also a sign that your organs aren’t getting the restoration they need at night, which can lead to serious medical conditions, including:
- Heart attack
- Early death
Obesity and sleep apnea are closely linked. If you lose weight, your sleep apnea improves. If you gain weight, your sleep apnea can worsen.
Why you have sleep apnea
Most cases of sleep apnea are caused by a physical impediment that blocks the flow of oxygen into your mouth, a condition known as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Most of the 22 million adults and children in the United States who have sleep apnea suffer from OSA.
You may have OSA if you’re overweight or have large tonsils or a large tongue. Other physical impediments to nighttime breathing include a deviated nasal septum and a recessed chin.
In a rare type of sleep apnea, known as central sleep apnea (CSA), your brain “forgets” to signal your lungs to breathe multiple times a night. Some people with CSA also have OSA, a combination known as complex sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is treatable
If you suspect you have sleep apnea, you may wonder why you’d go to a dentist for help. Wouldn’t you be better served by a sleep specialist? Dr. Rockey is both a board-certified dentist and a sleep specialist.
Surprisingly, too, one of the most effective and easily tolerated treatments for sleep apnea is all about a healthy mouth: It’s an oral appliance that’s custom fitted to keep your jaw slightly forward while you sleep, so that your tongue doesn’t block your airway.
As a bonus, the appliance also protects your teeth if you have a tendency to grind them while you sleep, a condition known as bruxism. Bruxism is also associated with sleep apnea. In fact, if you experience an apnea during the night, you may grind your teeth to remind yourself to take a breath.
An oral appliance is a much less intrusive sleep apnea remedy than a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine, which requires you to wear a mask while you sleep. The CPAP machine also tends to be noisy, which can disrupt your sleep.
In contrast, an oral appliance fits over your teeth like a night guard, retainer, or sports guard. It’s easy to care for and doesn’t require any bulky machinery. You simply insert it after you brush your teeth, before retiring for the night, then remove it, clean it, dry it, and store it in the morning.
Call us today at 949-558-0554 to schedule a sleep apnea evaluation so you can sleep through the night again. You can also book an appointment online.