The other night, I saw a TV commercial for a prescription sleep aid. The woman in the ad woke up with a smile, stretching to show what a restful night of sleep she’d just gotten. For some people who have occasional (note the word ‘occasional’ here) insomnia, these pills are helpful. At times, stress or travel can impact our ability to get a good night’s sleep and feel rested and alert the next day.
What these pills are NOT designed to do is overcome the rigors your body endures throughout the night as a result of sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder. A disorder means that something is not functioning as intended.
Sleep apnea causes pauses in breathing that can last up to a minute. These can occur hundreds of times per night. These interruptions in air intake deprive the brain with sufficient oxygen while you sleep. This interferes with your brain’s ability to go through the nightly repair and rebooting cycles they are designed to perform.
The brain is anything but ‘shut down’ while you sleep. Even though a third of our lives are spent sleeping, certain parts of the brain remain active. This period enables your brain to do some housekeeping by removing unhealthy accumulations while regulating certain hormones that keep the body functioning properly.
For example, sleep helps to balance appetite levels by regulating certain hormones that effect feelings of hunger and fullness. Sleep deprivation disrupts hormonal balances that make you feel the need to eat more. Of course, this can lead to weight gain, which is a common side effect of sleep apnea.
While weight gain is an unhealthy side effect, others are deadly. Sleep apnea has been linked to heart attack, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, high blood pressure, depression, impotency… should I go on? You get the picture.
The industry standard for treating sleep apnea in the past has been a bulky, noisy and often uncomfortable C-PAP device. While effective in pushing oxygen into air passages, consistent usage by those prescribed with C-PAP therapy is low. Fortunately, an alternative does exist.
Certain FDA-approved oral appliances can help overcome mild to moderate sleep apnea. These are about the size of a mouth guard, custom-fitted to the contours of your mouth and do not interfere with sleep. They are designed to help adjust the jaw so your throat is more open during sleep. Rather than force air into your throat, oral appliances make air intake, on your own, easy.
You may wish to begin with a no-obligation consultation. There is no cost for this time and you’ll be able to ask questions and have your options explained fully. If you struggle with daytime fatigue, lack of alertness or focus, weight gain, nodding off easily, or feeling unmotivated, it’s time to look into options that can restore your health (and maybe even save your life). Call toll free 1-866-9-Smiles.