A friend recently shared her “maddening” experience during a lengthy flight. Being masked for the long period wasn’t the problem. It was the passenger behind her. “He dropped off to sleep soon after take-off and snored so loudly my headphones were no match for him.”
Although the sound of snoring may be embarrassing for the snorer, it is far more of a concern than an audible irritant for those within earshot. Heavy snoring is a sign of an obstruction in the air passages. The sound made comes from a vibration.
Snoring is fairly common for people who have too much throat and loose nasal tissue, which relax further during sleep. When the intake of air cannot move freely through the nose and throat during sleep, the surrounding tissues vibrate.
While snoring on its own is not inherently bad or dangerous, the ill-effects of heavy snoring can be a warning sign of sleep apnea.
Statistics on snoring in the U.S. are concerning. Only about 59 percent of snorers say they snore. Yet, approximately 40 percent of men habitually snore as do 24 percent of women.
As the individual on the flight found, loud snoring is problematic for more than the person who snores. Although my friend could escape the rattle once off the flight, living with a heavy snorer is challenging. It can be harmful, if not devastating, to a relationship.
Snoring is the third leading cause of divorce in the U.S. Approximately 18 percent of sleep partners claim that snoring is the cause of regular arguments in their relationship. About 30 percent of these have chosen to sleep in a separate room to escape it.
Snoring can be highly disruptive to the sleep quality of sleep partners in more ways than loss of sleep. Findings of a study published by ScienceDirect (May 2017) showed: “When both partners slept less, couples interacted in a more hostile way than when at least one partner slept more.”
As bad as the noise is for those around a snoring individual, snoring is often a precursor to sleep apnea. This, in itself, is a health hazard that is garnering more attention; rightly so.
Sleep apnea occurs when air intake is paused. For people with sleep apnea, the pauses can occur up to a hundred times per night, with some pauses that last up to a minute each. Without a sufficient supply of oxygen to the brain and heart, health problems develop, many very serious.
Sleep apnea can lead to multiple cardiovascular problems. This results from disturbed respiration, which reduces the amount of oxygen in the blood. Diabetics also have particular challenges when it comes to their sleep quality. According to studies shared by the National Center for Biotechnology Information:
“Just as diabetes can cause sleep problems, sleep problems also appear to play a role in diabetes. Getting poor sleep or less restorative slow-wave sleep has been linked to high blood sugar levels in people with diabetes and prediabetes. However, it’s not entirely clear whether one causes the other or whether more variables are at work. Researchers believe that sleep restriction may affect blood sugar levels due to its effects on insulin, cortisol, and oxidative stress.”
The health hazard list goes on and on. Loss of sound sleep leads to daytime fatigue, higher risks for accidents or injuries on the job, weight gain and obesity, depression, moodiness, and reduced motivation. For people who drive, sleep apnea has been said to be more deadly than drunk driving.
Having these symptoms or being told that loud snoring is a problem should be a clear wake-up call (no pun intended. Well… maybe!).
Often, people fear the diagnosis process will require an overnight to a sleep center, being hooked up to a barrage of wires and cords. However, in cases where mild to moderate apnea is suspect
ed, an at-home sleep study is effective for most people. These are shipped right to your home and the instructions are easy to follow. After a night’s monitoring of your sleep patterns, return shipment is easy. Results are read by qualified sleep physicians and diagnosis is provided fairly promptly.
If sleep apnea registers as either mild to moderate, it is not always necessary to go with a C-PAP device. The complaints by those who are prescribed these devices are often the same: noisy, confining, inconvenient for travel, bulky, and embarrassing. To no surprise, compliance is not high, estimated at about 22 percent. Although some models are better than others at reducing these frustrations, a CPAP may be avoided altogether in many cases.
As a Neuromuscular dentist, I’ve incorporated some of the most advanced technology available in dentistry to optimize proper diagnosis. If sleep apnea is revealed through your study, we can assess the most conservative treatment possible to help you regain restful sleep. This is typically done with oral appliances that are specially-designed to fit the unique contours of your mouth. They are small and comfortable.
Through oral appliance therapy, there is no noise, no inability to move comfortably in bed, no awkward machines needed for travel, easy to clean, and they pop in and out of the mouth easily. Best of all, restful sleep is restored without surgery or extended treatments.
We have had many patients who lead very different lives after using their oral appliance. However, we’ve also had some who have been fitted for an oral appliance elsewhere and failed to get sufficient results.
As a neuromuscular dentist, I incorporate the complete list of influencers, some which are often low considerations by dentists not specifically trained in neuromuscular dentistry. Through our computerized technology, I can carefully scrutinize the results of individual factors including bone structure, joint position/movement, muscles, bite forces, tongue and palate shape, and airway passages.
Once oral appliance therapy begins, we also work with patients during treatment to help them maximize their sleep quality. In addition to having a restored ability to breathe throughout sleep time, the temperature of the room, humidity and bed and pillow height are just some factors that can impact an ideal level of sleep. (Download our Sleep Tips at: Sleep Tips by Dr. Barbat
If you have, or suspect you have, sleep apnea, begin by visiting: https://www.banrbarbatdds.com/sleep-apnea-snoring/
Could this treatment change your life? For a no-charge consultation, call our Shelby Township dental office at: 586-739-2155 or tap here to begin.