There are three broad categories of sleep problems: Sleep Hygiene, Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) and Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome (UARS)
In developed countries, not getting enough good sleep has become the new epidemic. For one thing, we tend to, as they say, burn the candle at both ends by working more and sleeping less. We disrupt our sleep cycles by staring at bright computer screens at night confusing our bodies into thinking it is daytime instead of night time. Having poor sleep habits such as these is called sleep hygiene. And we can certainly help ourselves a great deal by changing our behavior to incorporate better sleep habits.
However, even if we get enough hours of sleep, we often don’t get enough quality sleep due to poor breathing because of narrow or even blocked airways. Sleep apnea (OSA) and its close cousin Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome (URS) are the two main causes of poor-quality sleep.
The body uses the hours during sleep to repair itself after a day of working and thinking. Many different systems are at work at night than during the day. Different hormones turn on while others turn off. In addition to the common symptoms of snoring, daytime drowsiness and morning headaches, there are many negative effects on the body such as high blood pressure, diabetes, increased risk for stroke and heartache, depression and obesity among others.
The problem comes from restricted upper airways (UARS) or restricted lower airways (OSA) that become worse when we sleep. Muscles weaken as we age allowing the airway to collapse due to gravity when we lie down. Because of our soft, processed-food diets, over the generations our jaws have been developing smaller causing less space for the tongue. When there is not enough space for the tongue, there is no place for it to go except to fall back into the airway. While we are sleeping, if the body detects that we are not getting enough oxygen it will send a jolt of adrenaline to cause us to at least partially wake up and take a breath. Sometimes this involves a simple shift in position to open the airway. Sometimes, if breathing has stopped for a long period of time, a person can wake up gasping for breath. Either way, there is now adrenaline flowing through the system keeping the body tense rather than relaxed so it can not repair and restore itself as it should. Lack of good nighttime restoration causes all sorts of illnesses, even some cancers.
Normal breathing is silent breathing through your nose. It is quite and effortless. It allows our bodies to go into a normal deep, restorative sleep and to awake refreshed and ready to take on each new day.
Symptoms of Obstructed Breathing
LOUD & PERSISTENT
GASPING DURING SLEEP
HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE
DEPRESSION + ANXIETY
CONSULT A PROFESSIONAL
If you or someone you love is suffering from the effects of an obstructed airway during sleep,
the risk of developing potentially serious health conditions is increased.
Call (305) 447-9199 Today to Schedule a Consultation.
Treatment for Sleep Apnea
The first system created for treating sleep apnea, and the gold standard today, is the CPAP machine. CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure. (show picture of a CPAP machine?) This system consists of a face or nose mask attached to a machine that generates continuous pressure through the nose to force the airway to stay open even when muscles relax. It is not really a treatment but rather, a maintenance device because it must be worn for the rest of a patient’s life. While this method is effective, many people find the machine cumbersome to wear. And maintaining the machine can be time consuming and annoying, so compliance is not always good.
A less cumbersome method is the mandibular advancement appliance (show picture?) which goes by many names but essentially is an appliance that prevents the lower jaw from falling back to prevent airway collapse. This is not always quite as effective as the CPAP machine, but compliance is much better. Many people like this alternative because it is easy to travel with and requires less maintenance. These devises should be made by a dentist trained in dental sleep medicine. Dental Solutions of South Florida makes these custom mandibular advancement devices and many people are very happy with them. However, these are also maintenance devices that must be replaced every 3-5 years and worn for the rest of a patient’s life.
The newest and most advanced method for treating restricted airways is to use the VIVOS system of appliance therapy. This system uses a series of appliances that are worn only in the evenings and all night. It is painless and literally stimulates stem cells in the body to grow a larger airway. It can take between one and two years but is a permanent solution rather than just maintenance. For more information, click on VIVOS.