Livonia Dentist Explains Sleep Cycles and Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea is a dangerous condition that affects millions of Americans. Unfortunately, many people do not realize that they suffer from sleep apnea and thus do not seek the treatment they need. Dr. Stewart has studied sleep apnea and dental sleep medicine. He feels that his patients need to first have a basic understanding of the sleep cycle before they can properly grasp the disruptive nature of sleep apnea.

Sleep Cycles

The sleep cycle divides into two distinct categories: REM sleep and non-REM sleep. The abbreviation REM stands for rapid eye movement, and it is the stage in when dreams occur.

Non-REM Sleep

  • Stage One: During this stage, which lasts between five and ten minutes, people can be awoken easily. The dream-like sensation of falling and the resulting muscle contraction often occur in this initial sleep state. 
  • Stage Two: Light sleep happens in this stage, accompanied by a slowing of heart rate and a decrease in body temperature.
  • Stages Three and Four: By these phases, people are experiencing deep sleep, also known as slow-wave or delta sleep. When disrupted during these late stages, people feel disoriented.

REM Sleep

REM sleep, or dream sleep, transpires after you have been asleep for approximately 70–90 minutes. As the name suggests, your eyes move rapidly during this phase and dreaming sometimes takes place. Other factors of REM sleep include shallow breathing, an increase in heart rate and blood pressure, and stiffening of the arm and leg muscles. 

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

For some people, obstructive sleep apnea regularly disrupts the sleep cycle. This sleep disorder occurs when a person’s airway is completely blocked, causing him or her to stop breathing for 10 seconds or longer, repeatedly, while asleep. Obstructive sleep apnea prevents the brain from receiving the appropriate amount of oxygen, and so increases the chances of stroke and heart failure.

Do You Have OSA?

If you snore loudly, have morning headaches, feel tired after sleeping all night, or wake suddenly gasping or choking schedule a consultation with Dr. Stewart today. These symptoms can indicate OSA. Dr. Stewart treats snoring and sleep apnea at our dental office. Call at (734) 425-4400 to reserve your appointment  We treat patients from Livonia, Farmington, Farmington Hills, Plymouth, Garden City, Dearborn, Dearborn Heights, Westland, and the surrounding areas.