If you suspect you have sleep apnea, it may be because you feel tired and run down during the day or nod off easily. However, sleep apnea has side effects that can be far worse, and even deadly.
Health risks associated with sleep apnea include high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, diabetes, obesity, impotency and depression. Behind the wheel, sleep apnea sufferers are said to be more dangerous than drunk drivers.
A common treatment for sleep apnea is a C-PAP device. An acronym for continuous positive airway pressure, this device includes a hose that is connected to a fan. The hose attaches to a mask worn over the face and air is forced into airway passages throughout the night.
While effective in its task to supply the body with sufficient oxygen during sleep, these contraptions are bulky and challenging for some people. User complaints include feeling claustrophobic, unable to move around in bed, and making traveling a chore. Unfortunately, these issues are likely why only 22 percent of people who have C-PAP devices are estimated to be consistent users.
In our office, we’ve successfully treated a number of individuals with sleep apnea or who are heavy snorers (often a precursor of sleep apnea). Using a custom-made , FDA approved device that’s worn in the mouth during sleep, most mild to moderate sleep apnea can be resolved.
The best way to determine if you truly have sleep apnea is to have a sleep study performed. This can be arranged through your physician and may be covered by insurance. Until you have an accurate diagnosis, however, try the tips below to help you get the best quality of sleep possible:
- Sleep on your side.
This helps to keep your airway open & reduces the potential for heartburn and acid reflux.
- Elevate the head of your bed 6-8 inches.
Place several pillows between the box spring and the mattress, positioned under the mattress at the head of the bed. Avoid stacking pillows under your head since it can lead to neck issues.
- Use Breathe RightR nasal strips.
These come in small or large and it helps to purchase the appropriate size. The clear ones are best for sensitive skin. There is a helpful video on Breathe Right’s website that demonstrates how it works and how to use it. (https://www.breatheright.com/how-breathe-right-strips-work/try-breathe-right.html) Avoid generic brands and the advanced versions.
- Use nasal spray every night right before bed.
Begin by blowing your nose to clear it. Consider a hot shower before bed since inhaling steam can loosen congestion. Our patients give us the best feedback about Flonase (available over the counter) rather than Afrin.
- Keep your bedroom dark.
Make sure the room is perfectly dark while you’re sleeping. You can use a mask over your eyes. Dim lights for an hour or two leading up to sleep time. Avoid using electronics with a screen within two hours of bedtime, which interferes with melatonin levels. Avoid laying down within 30 minutes of eating as this will increase your risk of heartburn.
- Keep your bedroom cool.
Studies show that the ideal temperature for sleep is 65 degrees. A programmable thermostat can be set to drop the temperature down to that level late into the night and back up to more comfortable levels in the morning.
- Keep the air clean and at the right humidity.
An air cleaner helps if your furnace system is old. Otherwise, change the air filter on your furnace every month and use one with high filtration. Use a humidifier in the winter if your house is dry. The humidity in your bedroom should be between 30 & 50%.
- Use your oral sleep appliance EVERY NIGHT.
Once you have an oral appliance, it’s important that your airway becomes accustomed to the new open path at the back of your throat down to your lungs. Regular nightly use ensures it stays open.
For your health, it is important to get sufficient, restful sleep every night. Once diagnosed, we will be happy to discuss a custom-designed oral sleep appliance during a no-charge consultation. For many individuals, these appliances are the best way to overcome sleep apnea.
Call 586-739-2155 to arrange a consultation.