Sometimes, it's more than just a little snore. When it comes to sleep apnea, recent research has shown that, other than professional treatment, simple self-care can dramatically improve this common condition.
Sleep apnea, perhaps best characterized by its trademark symptom of snoring, is a condition in which an individual's breathing stops for periods of time during sleep. Other symptoms include:
- Waking up during the night and feeling as if you're gasping for breath
- Problems falling asleep (or staying asleep once you do)
- Chronic drowsiness or sleepiness
- Waking up with dry mouth or an irritated throat
- Symptoms of sleep deprivation during the day, even after a full night of sleep (i.e. headaches, problems with concentration, irritation)
If left untreated, sleep apnea symptoms can increase the risk of serious health issues, such as depression or heart disease, and it can even lead to stroke or other life-threatening situations. If you suspect that you are suffering from sleep apnea, you'll want to contact a professional who can fit you for a simple sleep apnea mouthpiece or a related device. This is the best means of immediate relief, though several lifestyle changes can help alleviate symptoms.
- Avoid food and drink that can affect your sleep quality, such as caffeinated beverages. Beware of sugar, as well, as it affects hormones in the body that can disrupt your ability to fall or stay asleep.
- Get in a consistent bedtime routine. The human body loves predictability, and allowing yourself enough time to sleep (a recommended bare minimum is seven hours) at the same time each night can improve symptoms.
- When choosing exercise, especially if you prefer to work out in the evenings, try activities that especially help release stress hormones. We highly recommend yoga, but a dedicated stretching session of around ten minutes can help regulate your body. However, all forms of exercise are crucial for sleep apnea self-care, so don't forget about the cardio!
- Consider sleep apnea devices fitted by a professional. Your dentist may suggest one of several popular sleep apnea dental devices that can make a dramatic difference in your symptoms. Oral appliances are most effective in the treatment of mild to moderate sleep apnea, although they do provide a treatment alternative for patients with severe symptoms. Oral appliances are said to be comfortable to use. Sometimes, for more complicated sleep apnea, an oral appliance and CPAP are used in combination.
If you'd like to make an appointment with a local sleep apnea dentist who has years of experience both diagnosing and treating this condition, Dr. Austin and his team would love to sit down and discuss any issues you may be having. Here at Austin Family Dentistry, we offer total dental care for the whole family, including kids' dental care, family orthodontics, sleep dentistry, and more. We can not only treat your sleep apnea, but we can provide a convenient family dental care option for you and your loved ones!