Perhaps someone has told you your snoring is deafening, or you’ve woken up on lots of mornings feeling less than refreshed. In those instances, it’s probably pretty obvious something is wrong with the way you sleep.
Sometimes it’s easy to diagnose the problem, but in the case of sleep apnoea, a disorder wherein people stop breathing while asleep, sometimes hundreds of times a night, pinpointing the problem can be significantly trickier. These brief periods when you stop breathing don’t trigger full alertness, but disrupt sleep enough to leave sufferers groggy in the mornings — and at risk for a number of more serious health problems, often without even realizing there’s a problem.
People with undiagnosed sleep apnoea may go on to develop depression, or even diabetes, and face an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes, among other concerns.
Men over the age of 40 are most at risk. Being overweight also increases your likelihood of developing the condition, as can a family history of the disease, having a large tongue or neck and having allergies, sinus problems or any nasal obstruction, according to WebMD.
Luckily, there are a number of ways to treat sleep apnoea including simple lifestyle measures like losing weight and avoiding alcohol. But all too often a sleep apnoea diagnosis is hard to come by
A family member or bed partner is often first to notice the signs, usually snoring or brief periods of no breathing.
But don’t leave your health entirely in the hands of the people sleeping around you – take advice and do something about it.
‘Debbie’ wrote in to say that she was recently diagnosed with sleep apnoea. She was scheduled to get a CPAP breathing machine to treat it but when she went to her dentist she learned about another treatment option: a dental appliance fitted to her mouth, designed to keep her airway open when she sleeps.
As she is also mildly claustrophobic, it sounded like a better option. Now, months later, her sleep apnoea is gone and she’s seeing a chain of health benefits.
“I get up early, I’m usually busy all day,” she said. “I hardly ever nap anymore. My blood pressure is better. I’ve cut my medicine in half and lost a little bit of weight and I just feel a lot better.”
A Sleep Centre Medical Director, Dr. Michael Coats, said the mandibular repositioning dental appliances are getting more popular. Before, the idea of a breathing machine may even have discouraged people from coming forward to get their sleep apnoea diagnosed.
“I think there’s lots of people that are more willing to seek treatment and evaluation if they realize they have options in regards to their treatment,” Coats said.
Debbie’ss dentist, Dr. Rob Heinrich, said it made sense to incorporate the dental devices into his business. The majority of the people he supplies with an oral appliance come in as recommendations from Sleep centres.
“What we’re finding is the compliance rates for the oral appliances is higher,” Heinrich said. “The efficacy or the success rate of the oral appliance may be lower, although, if the patient is not wearing a CPAP at all, the next best thing can be an oral appliance to help them.”
If you think you’re at risk – take a look at the range of oral appliances that are available from SleepPro – including a ready made Self Fit version for extra comfort, and the ultimate Custom version, specially made to fit you.
By John Redfern