“Last night was the first night I haven’t heard you snore in a while”
This was the first thing I heard Maria say to me this morning. It has now been 3 nights since I’ve started wearing my oral sleep appliance to help me with my snoring and my sleep apnea and I can already tell that its making a difference. As you can read from my previous blog post I was fitted this past weekend for an oral sleep appliance as part of a class for dentists on sleep apnea. I had always been told that I snore with some nights being worse than others but I never really knew if I had sleep apnea. Sleep apnea can cause you to be more tired during the day but heck I’ve got two kids and one of them insists on waking up at 5:30am everyday so I would typically blame him. Instead of blaming the 3 year old I should have been looking at symptoms and risk factors.
Six things I should have noticed that were a dead giveaway for sleep apnea
There are many risk factors and symptoms of sleep apnea but a few of mine that I should have noticed are:
- Having a small upper airway – ever since I was a kid all of the doctors commented on my large tonsils. No one wanted to take them out but looking at them now you can see that the golfball sized tonsils take up a good part of the back of my throat
- A neck size 17″ or greater (16″ for women) – My shirt size is usually 17 1/2 to 18″
- Loud snoring – Maria has “commented” for years about my loud snoring and I have the bruise marks in the morning to prove it 🙂
- Gasping or choking while sleeping – This is not something that you typically notice about yourself. This is something that someone else has to tell you about (which has happened). I do remember on occasion waking up from a deep sleep and gasping for air.
- Daytime sleepiness – I was never so tired that I could not go about my day, but there were plenty of times when I would sit on the couch and could go to sleep within a couple of minutes. Again I would typically contribute this to a busy work day or a hectic day with the kids.
- Morning headaches – I don’t get them as often as I used to but morning headaches used to be a common part of my life. I used to think they were from grinding my teeth at night (which they may have been) but perhaps there is a sleep apnea component to it as well.
Take the Epworth Sleepiness Test to see if you are at risk. Click here.
Four things you can do today to help control your sleep apnea (and snoring):
- Lose weight
- Avoid alcohol and sleeping pills
- Quit smoking
- Sleep on your side or stomach
Three treatment options for sleep apnea
-Read previous post for more details and pictures –
- CPAP – Forces air into airway to keep the throat muscles from collapsing while sleeping (1st and best option)
- Oral airway appliance – Gently pulls chin forward to pull the tongue and throat muscles away from the back of the throat (alternative to CPAP machine for those with mild sleep apnea or are intolerant to the CPAP
- Surgery to remove excess tissue
See how Shaq dealt with his sleep apnea
Less sleepless nights
For as long as I can remember I have been waking up several times a night. I would lay there for a few minutes to up to an hour and then fall back asleep. I just figured I had things on my mind. Last night was the first time I can remember sleeping all the way through the night without waking up. I slept 7 straight hours until little man Jack woke me up. All day I have also felt more rested and more eager to conquer the day. Its only been 3 nights but I can say that I am excited to be off to a good start.
More people than I thought are dealing with sleep apnea
According to the NIH 50-70 million Americans deal with sleep disorders and/or insufficient sleep. Many of those people are have sleep apnea. In the last few days I have been listening to and asking more patients about their sleep habits and its been amazing to hear how many people are dealing with exactly the same issues as me. If you feel that you are not getting the kind of sleep that you would like click here and get scheduled for a free consult on your sleep apnea.
-Allan Acton DDS