Most of us are guilty of snoring every once in a while, but if you find yourself snoring every time you sleep, you may be suffering from sleep apnea. This isn’t just an annoying habit that you and your partner have to deal with – it can cause serious health problems if left untreated and can also be a symptom of deeper issues. Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that can impact your breathing, health, energy levels, and overall sense of well-being. It may even have a negative effect on anyone sleeping near you! Keep reading as Serrano Orthodontics takes a look at how to avoid sleep apnea with a healthy lifestyle.
The basics of sleep apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea is a potentially serious disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts. This often occurs when abnormalities in the oral air passages cause the soft tissues and tongue to block the body’s airways, preventing you from getting the oxygen you need. Breathing stops for a few seconds at a time, causing the brain to send out a “wake up” alarm to the body. When normal breathing resumes, it’s often accompanied by choking, loud snoring, or a snorting sound.
This process is sometimes repeated dozens of times each night, but since you’re sleeping when it happens, you’re likely unaware that anything out of the ordinary is occurring. You might feel exhausted daily and wonder why it seems like you’re running on empty even when you get a full night’s sleep. Many people don’t realize anything is amiss until a partner or family member mentions their snoring or choking!
Obesity, excessive alcohol use, and certain medications can contribute to or worsen sleep apnea, but it may also be related to your specific sleep habits or the way your jaw is structured. There are certain symptoms associated with this sleep disorder if you know what you’re looking for. Aside from the aforementioned snoring, choking, and snorting while sleeping, these often include:
- excessive drowsiness during the day
- feeling like you never get a good night’s sleep
- lack of REM sleep or dreaming
As well as being an annoyance, sleep apnea can cause or contribute to health issues like high blood pressure and heart problems. The good news is, leading a more active and healthy lifestyle can help you avoid sleep apnea and even improve your health if you’re already dealing with the disorder!
Increasing physical activity is shown to decrease sleep apnea risk
In today’s society, most of us spend quite a lot of time on electronic devices. It’s not uncommon to find that hours have passed when scrolling our phones or watching television. However, studies show that decreasing screen time and boosting activity levels can decrease your risk of sleep apnea. In one study, participants who were less active and had sedentary jobs had a higher risk of OSA.
It is also common for those who spend a lot of time stationery to spend more time snacking and drinking sugary beverages. This can lead to additional weight gain which is a known cause of OSA. With an estimated 1 billion Americans dealing with this disease, it’s important to be aware of how you live your life!
The good news is that there are plenty of easy ways to increase your activity level and avoid sleep apnea with a healthy lifestyle! If you work an office job or one that doesn’t require much physical labor, you may wonder what you can do to get more active. Spending a few minutes each hour standing up to stretch or taking a walk during your lunch break is a great start!
Using oral appliances to resolve obstructive sleep apnea
In addition to upping your active hours, oral appliances can help to resolve mild to moderate sleep apnea for many patients. When you schedule your initial consultation, we’ll take a digital scan of the upper and lower teeth that will perform an airway analysis that returns an algorithm and gives us measurements that will show any anatomical narrowing of the airway. We send this information to a laboratory where a customized sleep appliance is made for you according to your specific needs. This appliance positions the lower jaw forward as you sleep, keeping your airway clear and allowing you to breathe freely throughout the night.
Our Serrano Orthodontics team will ensure the fit is correct before sending you home with detailed instructions. We’ll generally follow up within two weeks to make sure you’re utilizing the device properly and finding some relief while using it. If any adjustments are needed, we’ll work these out until you get the maximum benefit from your appliance! At this point, we’ll often repeat the sleep test to make sure your sleep apnea is being treated successfully.
Get a good night’s sleep again with Serrano Orthodontics
Are you tired of feeling tired? We can help! Diagnosing and treating obstructive sleep apnea can change your life and leave you feeling rested and energized each morning. Our customized oral appliances are simple to use while you sleep, and restore your breathing without cumbersome masks and machines. When you visit our Phoenix or Chandler offices, we can also help you understand how to avoid sleep apnea with a healthy lifestyle!
If you are suffering from symptoms associated with sleep apnea, we encourage you to get in touch and schedule an appointment with us. Drs. Paul and Andrew Serrano and our entire team will be happy to help you take the first steps towards quiet nights of restful sleep for you and your whole family!