What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
Try and hold your breath. Take a big breath in and hold your breath for as long as you can. Now, do the opposite. How long can you go before your body sets off the “I need air!” alarms? Now, breath out all the air possible, then hold your breath. This was much shorter than the first time, right? If you had been sleeping while doing this, you would have exhibited sleep apnea.
Normal sleep is categorized by normal breathing (hopefully through your nose) without pauses. You will go through the stages of sleep and get down into the deep REM sleep, which is the healing and rejuvenating sleep takes place. Upon waking, you feel rested and awake.
Sleep with obstructive sleep apnea will be disrupted by something in your body (tongue or tissue) occluding your airway during the night. The flow of oxygen to your body stops as the upper airway is obstructed. Your body trades sleep for oxygen. Your blood oxygen levels drop, blood pressure goes up and your heart beats faster to try to compensate for the lack of oxygen. When oxygen levels get to low the brain sends our signals throughout the body to wake up. You try to breath, but the airway is still blocked. This is where you exhibit the gasping and snorting as you try to clear the obstruction. Your chest and stomach move up and down, but no air is coming in. It may have been a minute and a half by now without breathing. Your oxygen level fall even lower and microscopic cell damage starts in your circulatory system. Finally, your body has had enough and your brain wakes you up telling you to “Breathe!!!!! You arouse enough to gasp for air. Your oxygen levels go back up and your body returns to sleep. The huge problem is that patients do not know they are waking up hundreds of times a night as the brain arouses the body just enough to clean the obstruction. Then the patient goes back into deeper sleep.
The Obstruction in Obstructive Sleep Apnea
In most cases your tongue or tissues block the airway. This is due to the fact that during sleep muscle tone is reduced. The tongue and throat tissue can collapse covering up the airway. Our Dental Sleep Office can help with a Mandibular Advancement Device. This professionally made device pulls your lower jaw downward and forward opening up the airway.
This constant sleep wake cycle never allows your body to truly rest and rejuvenate. Did you know your brain cleans itself during sleep?
People with Sleep Apnea wake up exhausted and have daytime fatigue issues. They power up with caffeine and can even fall asleep while driving. Sometimes, patient will adapt and just consider this normal, but this cycle of not breathing will put you in a much greater risk for heart attack, stroke, or dying too early.
If you think you or a loved one has Obstructive Sleep Apnea, call our office today. We serve Deer Park and Pasadena Texas. We are the leading Dental Sleep Practice. You may think “Why can a Dentist help with Sleep Apnea“.