When John and Jane first got together, Jane found his snoring “cute.” But the honeymoon has been over for a long, long time. She’s sick and tired of being, well, tired all the time.
John’s snoring is constant and extremely loud , which makes it impossible for her to get a good night’s sleep. She’s gone to bed early in hopes of dozing off being he starts making noises. She’s tried sleeping with earplugs, too. And yet, his snoring still wakes her up more often than she would like.
After five years of marriage, she doesn’t hesitate to tell him exactly how she feels. John either has to do something about his snoring … or he’ll be sleeping on the couch until he stops.
For John’s sake and the sake of his marriage, we hope he calls the nearest Stonecreek Dental Care location in Ohio. His snoring may be a sign of a sleep disorder called sleep apnea, and our dentists may have the perfect solution to help.
What Snoring Could Mean
Snoring is the result of air vibrating the soft tissues near your airway. If the airway is restricted in some way, that changes how easily you can breathe. The result is the vibrations that cause the sounds that we’ve all heard at one time or another.
Whether we know it or not, most of us snoring sometimes. However, chronic snoring could point to a more serious problem — obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
OSA occurs when someone’s airways become closed off as they fall asleep. Snoring is often part of a cycle that can repeat hundreds of times each night, depending on the severity of someone’s condition.
When people with OSA falls asleep, the muscles around their throats relax. This allows soft tissues to press into or block their airway. As this happens, they snore. That snoring continues until their airways are completely blocked, at which point they stop breathing.
These stoppages can last from 10 seconds to more than a minute. They end when the person’s body wakes them up so they can take a few breaths. More often than not, these awakenings are so brief that the person has no memory of them, although many people do report that they sometimes wake feeling like they are gasping for breath.
Levels of OSA
As we noted above, people with OSA may repeat this cycle hundreds of times every night.
Health professionals define the severity of OSA by how frequently these stoppages occur.
Someone with mild OSA will stop breathing 5 to 15 times per hour.
Someone with moderate OSA will stop breathing 16 to 29 times per hour.
And someone with severe OSA will stop breathing more than 30 times every hour .
Even at the mild level, this is a cause for concern. Your body wants to keep breathing. When it stops breathing, it will release a stress hormone.
This can raise your blood pressure level, which can lead to high blood pressure when you are awake as well. It’s probably not a coincidence that people with OSA also are more likely to suffer cardiovascular disease, heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes.
OSA vs. Healthy Sleep
We can’t go into all the details here, you need deep sleep to be healthy.
In order to reach the stages of deep sleep, however, you need to remain asleep for extended periods of time.
In the light stages of sleep, you can be woken up easily. Your body will relax. Your breathing will start to become slower and your heart rate will start to slow down as well. Please take note that many people with sleep apnea never get beyond these stages.
After about 35 minutes or so, people will make the transition to the deep sleep. In the non-REM stage, your brain waves begin to change. They become slower, and it becomes difficult to wake you up during this time. This is sometimes referred to as “Delta sleep,” and many health experts believe it is essential for helping us recover and recuperate.
The final stage of deep sleep is REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. This is when people are most likely to dream. (Coincidentally, many of our OSA patients tell us they started dreaming again for the first time in years after they received treatment from us.)
On a typical night, a person getting healthy sleep may repeat a cycle of light and deep sleep three or four times.
Since a person with OSA is waking up so often, he or she may get limited or no deep sleep. As a result, that person can feel sleep deprived.
And because of that person’s snoring, spouses, roommates, and family members may not get enough deep sleep either. When you have a house of sleep-deprived people, it’s easy to understand why they might become irritated or annoyed with one another more quickly.
Sleep deprivation poses other problems as well. It can leave you feeling tired throughout the day. Daytime sleepiness is a common problem. It’s a big part of the reason people with OSA are more than twice as likely as other people to cause traffic accidents.
For someone like John, we can arrange a home sleep test that will provide data about his sleep behaviors. A board-certified physician will review that data to determine whether he has sleep apnea.
If so, our team at Stonecreek Dental Care can design an oral appliance for John to wear while he sleeps. This appliance is like a custom-fitted mouthguard that will pull his lower jaw forward slightly. This can keep his airway open, so he can continue breathing. That means he can stay asleep for longer stretches of time and get the deep, healthy sleep he needs.
It also means he will snore less, too, so Jane can feel better about sleeping alongside him again.
John and Jane aren’t real people, but we have met and helped hundreds of couples in situations similar to what we described above. If you are one of them, call 877-959-5405 or contact us online to request a consultation with one of our doctors.
You deserve healthy sleep. We can help make that happen.