Is Poor Sleep Ruining Your Health?

Are you a chronic snooze button pusher? Is the only thing that gets you out of bed in the morning a promise to yourself that you’ll sneak a nap during the day? If you wake up feeling tired, even after getting eight or more hours of sleep, you may have an undiagnosed sleep disorder. Jack Haney, DDS can help you assess your risk of sleep apnea and provide Knoxville sleep apnea treatment.

When we talk about needing more sleep than other people, many people immediately think of narcolepsy—but this is actually a very rare condition. A more common culprit is poor sleep caused by  sleep apnea. It’s estimated that as many as 22 million Americans suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), and as many as 80 percent of those cases are undiagnosed. What makes this an alarming statistic is the fact that OSA can lead to major health conditions and cognitive decline.

If you feel chronically under-rested, visit Dr. Jack Haney for a Knoxville sleep apnea consultation. Call us today 865-693-6886 to learn about sleep breathing disorders and treatment.

What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)?

There a several forms of sleep apnea, but OSA is the most common. It happens when the airway becomes obstructed during the night when your body is asleep. The air passageway at the back of the throat relaxes to the point that you can no longer breathe out of your nose, so you open your mouth to keep breathing. Sleep apnea events occur when you stop breathing entirely. The airway closes off, and your body must wake briefly to prompt you to breathe again. A common warning sign is often snoring, since it’s caused by the vibrations that occur when nasal breathing is obstructed. Not all sufferers are snorers, however.

What Causes OSA?

Obstruction of the airway can be caused by many factors. Your genetic background plays a role. Sometimes it’s just the natural position of your jaw that makes the soft tissues of the throat more likely to relax during sleep. Being overweight doesn’t help and alcohol and medications can make it worse. In children, it is often attributable to swollen adenoids or tonsils. The good news, however, is that it’s caused by the physical position of the tissues in your throat, which means that changing the position of your jaw can sometimes help.

The Dangers of Untreated OSA

The health dangers of OSA are largely from it robbing your body of adequate oxygen intake. The best way for humans to breathe (all mammals, really) is through the nose. It gives you a slower exhale, which allows the oxygen to stay in your lungs longer and saturate the blood. When you breathe through the mouth, or stop breathing entirely, you simply don’t get optimal blood oxygenation, which can limit how well all your organs function.

According to scientific studies, OSA has been linked to:

  • 73 percent of Alzheimer’s cases
  • 63 percent of stroke cases
  • 72 percent of diabetes cases
  • 76 percent of heart failure cases
  • 83 percent of resistant hypertension cases
  • 45 percent of depression cases
  • 40 percent of ADHD

The second danger of OSA is that it robs you of quality sleep. Science has found that the body needs a certain amount of sustained rapid eye movement (REM) sleep in order for us to maximize its full restorative and regenerative benefits. With OSA, your brain is constantly waking through the night to force you to breathe again. This interrupts your sleep cycle, even though you may be totally unaware it is happening. Being deprived of sustained REM sleep during the night can lead to a decline in cognitive function. It limits how well you focus, concentrate, learn new material, remember details, and stay alert. (It also affects your quality of life, which you probably already know if you are always feeling tired and wishing you could sleep more.)

Could I Have OSA?

If you suspect you might have a sleep breathing disorder, the only way to know for sure is to have a sleep study done. The most common treatment for OSA is a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine, which pumps a steady stream of oxygen into the airway at night. However, there are other methods for treating OSA for patients who cannot use a CPAP. Make an appointment at Jack Haney, DDS, and we’ll answer all your questions about OSA. Visit Dr. Jack Haney to learn more about Knoxville sleep apnea treatment.

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