Picture this: after a long work week, you and your sleeping partner settle down into your warm, comfortable bed, hoping for a refreshing night’s sleep. After two hours of sleep, you awaken to a low rumbling. You start to fall back to sleep and the rumbling turns into short bursts of louder snorts. You are now awake enough to figure out that your sleeping partner is snoring. You lie awake, listening. And then the noise stops; in fact, you can’t hear him breathing. Livonia dentist, Dr. James Stewart, asks you to consider if your partner has sleep apnea.
How Do I Know if it’s Sleep Apnea?
When a person’s airways are partially blocked, or closed, while sleeping, he will snore. With sleep apnea, the airway becomes completely blocked, which frequently halts breathing through the night. When breathing stops, oxygen in the blood decreases and pressure in the chest cavity drops. After a short period of time, the body wakes up by a signal from the brain, and breathing begins again. Breathing can stop hundreds of times each night in sleep apnea sufferers. Patients do not feel rested and are not refreshed. Health and emotional issues can develop over time.
Sleep apnea carries many health risks. Stroke, heart attack, and death are the most serious. Patients who feel sleepy during the day are more accident prone and may fall asleep at an inappropriate time. Snoring affects your sleeping partner as well. Neither partner gets any rest. Lack of sleep can cause difficulties in a relationship.
Help Your Partner, Help Yourself
Encourage your partner to be evaluated for sleep apnea. Treatment for sleep apnea includes: a continuous positive air pressure (CPAP) machine, or wearing an oral appliance designed to keep your airway open by holding your tongue and jaw in the proper position. You may save your partner’s life and save both of you from losing sleep.
If your partner snores but does not have sleep apnea, here are some suggestions to help both of you to get more sleep:
- Regular exercise helps you sleep as long as you don’t do it right before retiring for bed.
- Consider your diet. Don’t eat immediately before bed. Allow a few hours for digestion. Caffeine, alcohol, and cigarettes may cause sleep disturbances, so keep intake of those to a minimum.
- Create a relaxing environment for sleep. Do not make your bedroom a place for work or family activities. Keep the room clean, comfortable, and cool at night. Only use the room to relax and sleep.
- If all else fails and snoring persists, nudge your partner and ask him to roll over. This reduces or stops the snoring process in most cases.
Where to Find Help
Your 48154 dentist, Dr. Stewart, provides screening for sleep apnea. If he determines that you may have sleep apnea, he will refer you to a sleep physician for an evaluation. Together, they will determine the best treatment for your condition. Call the Livonia dentist office at 734.425.4400 to make an appointment for a sleep apnea screening.