The Importance of Sleep
Many adults suffer from sleep disorders, and this condition can dramatically affect everyday life. Everyone needs a minimum amount of deep sleep every night in order to feel refreshed and to be able to function properly the next day. Most adults need around eight hours of sleep, and around two hours should be spent in deep sleep or a phase called non rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep.
This is something that usually happens fairly shortly after falling asleep, and the typical person will probably have several phases of NREM sleep throughout the night. During this period of deep sleep your immune system will be strengthened and your body will physically recover from the day. After NREM sleep you will enter a period of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep which is when you may find yourself dreaming, and this sleep cycle is repeated several times.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
If you have a sleep disorder these sleep cycles will be disrupted as your breathing will be interrupted, preventing deep sleep from occurring. Most people with sleep disorders will have obstructive sleep apnea, a condition where the soft tissues and muscles in the throat relax, causing the throat to collapse, blocking the airway. This condition is termed as being sleep apnea if the airway is blocked for 10 seconds or more.
It’s something that is more likely to happen if you are overweight, if you’re over the age of 40 and are male, if you have a large neck, or if you drink alcohol. It’s also more likely in people who have a family history of obstructive sleep apnea, who may be diabetic or who smoke, or whose nasal airways are congested.
Risks Associated with Obstructive Sleep Apnea
It is a condition that deserves to be taken seriously as it can increase the risk of heart attacks, strokes, type II diabetes and high blood pressure. In addition a lack of sleep can make it very difficult to function properly at work or at school.
Treating Obstructive Sleep Apnea
It’s something that can be treated quite easily by your dentist who can supply you with a custom-made device that looks a little like a mouth guard. This works by moving the lower jaw and tongue forwards, helping the airways to remain open throughout the night. These custom devices are easy and comfortable to wear, and if you have dental insurance you may find the cost is covered. Sometimes it may be necessary to have a sleep study carried out at a sleep center in order to get an accurate diagnosis prior to treatment.
If you are considerably overweight and have obstructive sleep apnea, then weight loss could help considerably as it will reduce the excess tissue around your neck, decreasing the likelihood of these the soft tissues and muscles collapsing while you sleep.
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