When it comes to your health, do you know what one of the biggest keys to good overall health is? It’s sleep! You’re probably surprised that a dental office is talking about getting a quality night’s sleep but we don’t see people just as teeth and smiles. Rather, we care about improving people’s full body health so we’ve got a sleep apnea dentist!
Our team at Exceptional Dentistry works with our patient’s medical doctors and we’ve found that one of the best ways to help people is simply to start with teaching them why quality sleep makes all the difference.
And even though we share this information with our patients, we want to make sure that you have what you need to get a good night’s rest & keep you healthy.
Why You Need Sleep
Sleep is necessary for survival. It helps us encode memories, declutters our brain, control emotions, and keeps our immune system strong for good health.
Without restful sleep, you can find yourself with a lack of endurance / stamina, difficulty focusing / concentrating , difficulty remembering things, and mood swings.
In fact, recent studies have found that sleep plays a role in removing toxins that build up in your brain while you’re awake.
So you can imagine what happens when you have an ongoing sleep disorder such as sleep apnea. A lot, as it turns out, and none of it is good.
With sleep apnea, your breathing pauses or stops repeatedly throughout the night because your airway collapses or becomes blocked. To breathe again, the body has to wake up, usually with a loud snore (just ask your partner if you don’t believe us).
When interrupted sleep goes on all night, you are not entering the required sleep stages for optimal health.
The Stages of Sleep
A good night’s sleep takes you through a series of stages that produce different brain wave patterns. Brain waves contribute to your state of mind.
When sleep begins, you are still awake and produce beta waves, that are small and fast waves (also known as the waking consciousness and reasoning waves). As the brain relaxes, you start to send out slower alpha waves (aka the deep relaxation waves), and you might experience a sensation of falling, hearing your name, or even feel a sudden jerking response.
The delta waves are where your body is able to fully reach a deep sleep.
There are two types of sleep; non-rapid eye movement, or quiet sleep, and rapid eye movement, or active sleep. You’re probably already familiar with the second type since it’s commonly called REM sleep.
Here’s the simplified version of the different stages of sleep:
Sleep Stage 1 (NREM)
You’re passing between wakefulness and sleep, emitting theta brain waves that are super slow, lasting anywhere from five to ten minutes. You may experience the sensation of falling in the stage since the muscles may contract.
Sleep Stage 2 (NREM)
You’re in a light sleep. As your breathing steadies and heart rate slows, your temperature starts to drop. Your brain goes into a state of very quick, rhythmic brain waves called sleep spindles that last about 20 minutes.
Essentially your body is preparing for very deep sleep. If you’re woken up during this stage you may think that you weren’t asleep at all.
Sleep Stage 3 (NREM)
Now everything slows down, your blood pressure, breathing, and your muscles relax, and the brain gives off delta waves. Delta waves are slow, and this is the deepest stage of sleep. But in this stage, the delta waves are less than 50%.
And if you’re a sleepwalker, this is the stage where you might start wandering. Parasomnias, like sleep walking or talking, happen when the brain is transitioning into REM.
This stage is responsible for all the “repair” work. Like physical rejuvenation, hormonal regulation, & growth. Without this deep sleep you are more likely to get sick, feel depressed, and gain an unhealthy amount of weight.
Sleep Stage 4 (REM)
In this stage of deep sleep, your brain activity picks up. Your eyes move back and forth quickly, you breathe more quickly, and your brain actively dreams while your body is stilled. Well, technically, your body systems are more active but your voluntary muscles stay still.
REM sleep is responsible for processing memories & emotions. That activity is imperative for higher-level thought and learning. When you don’t get enough REM sleep you’ll experience difficulty in comprehension, memory, and concentration.
So, on a good night, you’ll pass through these sleep stages four to five times as the cycle typically lasts about 90 minutes. You’ll typically skip stage one, and spend more time in deep sleep and REM during the last few rounds of the cycle.
How Sleep Apnea Affects Your Body
Sleep apnea is a serious, life-threatening condition. Essentially your oxygen is being cut off while you sleep. Let’s just say the result of sleep apnea or other sleep disorders isn’t just daytime drowsiness and fatigue. There’s so much more of you that’s impacted when sleep disorders go untreated, including your respiratory, endocrine, digestive, circulatory, cardiovascular, nervous and reproductive system.
It can make your breathing issues even worse, especially if you have a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or adult asthma.
It can make you more vulnerable to insulin resistance, which is where your cells don’t respond the way it should to the hormone insulin, and if this raises your blood sugar levels so you could end up with diabetes.
It can also raise heart disease factors like high LDL (bad) cholesterol, high blood pressure and hypertension, and abnormally increase your waist circumference.
Sleep apnea can lead to fatty liver disease, raised levels of liver enzymes and liver scarring. If you have heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) you could find them getting even worse.
Circulatory and cardiovascular systems
It can cause heart problems, including an abnormal heart rhythm, stroke, or heart failure.
Sleep apnea from malfunctioning neurons that control breathing can cause tingling and numbness in your limbs.
Not getting enough sleep can make you lose interest in sexual activity. For men, this could mean erectile dysfunction and diminished fertility.
Ongoing low blood oxygen levels can leave you with depression, memory loss, mental confusion or fogginess, increased infections from a weakened immune system, morning headaches, dry mouth, and sore throat.
As you can see, sleep apnea is bad news for your body.
It’s Time For A Good Night’s Sleep: Call A Sleep Apnea Dentist
If you’ve got any of the symptoms we’ve been listing in this post, you may be suffering from sleep apnea. A lot of people will put off having a sleep study because they’re afraid of what it might mean, but knowledge is power our friend.
And good sleep is not a privilege, it’s a requirement.
We truly believe that you deserve to get the rest that your body needs. Which is why our highly-trained sleep apnea dentist, Dr. James Powell, offers a variety of treatments for mild to moderate sleep apnea.
We also help people who don’t relish wearing a CPAP mask, with oral appliance therapy (like the FAGGA or DNA appliance therapy) so you can breathe easily again and find relief for sleep apnea symptoms.
One of the options that we offer is the DNA appliance . It’s a specialized removable appliance that works by expanding the upper jaw gently and increases the size of the nasal passageways. As the lower jaw enlarges and moves forward, it gives you a larger and less obstructed upper airway as the tongue and soft tissue move with the appliance.
If you’re ready to get a healthy night’s sleep, give us a call at (661) 349-7725 or stop by our state-of-the-art dental office in Palmdale, California, you can also schedule a visit with us online. It’s time to get your health back!