6 Surprising Facts About Sleep Apnea You Might Not Know

Know the facts about sleep apnea

Is sleep apnea keeping you from a good night’s rest?

Are you waking up at night feeling sluggish, like you just didn’t get any sleep? Are you having trouble focusing on work during the day because you can barely open your eyes? Or have you heard from your child’s school that they seem abnormally tired during the day? If you answered yes to any of these questions, it is possible that you or your child is suffering from sleep apnea. Thankfully, your dentist near Omaha can help you identify sleep apnea symptoms and can provide treatment for obstructive sleep apnea if needed.

Sleep apnea occurs when your breathing stops and restarts repeatedly during sleep. As a result, the body doesn’t get enough oxygen, and you wake up feeling tired and often experience excessive daytime sleepiness. Here are some surprising facts about sleep apnea that you should know to see if you or someone else in your home is suffering.

1. You can have sleep apnea without snoring.

Though many of our patients find out they have sleep apnea because their sleep partner tells them that they are snoring or seem to stop breathing during the night, sleep apnea and snoring do not always go hand in hand. That said, some people snore and suffer from sleep apnea due to a partially obstructed airway that causes soft tissues to come in contact with one another while breathing while you are sleeping. 

But other things can indicate you have sleep apnea as well, such as:

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Falling asleep while watching television
  • Dry mouth
  • Sleep bruxism (teeth grinding at night)
  • Night wakings

If you experience any of these symptoms (whether you snore or not), you may have obstructive sleep apnea.

2. Kids can have sleep apnea too.

We know how important it is for our kids to get sleep. Overtired kids can have trouble focusing at school, become disruptive at home and in class, and be generally ornery. But if your child has sleep apnea, putting them to bed earlier or letting them sleep in later in the morning won’t solve the root problem.

The signs of sleep apnea in children are different than in adults. Typical symptoms include:

  • Hyperactivity
  • Inability to focus at school
  • Irritability at home
  • Change in mood or appetite 

Sleep apnea in kids is common and often goes away as your child gets older. But if it doesn’t go away and your child is having trouble getting through the day, treatment might be necessary.

3. If you have sleep apnea, you stop breathing during your sleep.

Let’s pause on that thought for a moment: If you have sleep apnea, you stop breathing during your sleep. That entire thought is a bit unsettling, to say the least. Though most of those lapses in your breathing are temporary, it can be fatal in rare cases. For serious cases of sleep apnea, your dentist or primary care provider may recommend using a CPAP machine. A CPAP provides constant air pressure in your throat to keep the airway open when you breathe. And though CPAP devices are highly effective, it is often best to make other lifestyle changes too:

  • Stop smoking or using tobacco products.
  • Get more physical activity during the day.
  • Eat a balanced diet.

4. Sleep apnea can interfere with your dreaming.

Though dreams can happen anytime during your sleep, your most vivid dreams occur when your sleep is in the REM (rapid eye movement) phase. This is when your brain is the most active, and you know when you are dreaming. However, if you have sleep apnea, your brain wakes repeatedly throughout the night. So even if you felt like you slept through the night, the chances are that your body and brain rarely entered deep, restorative sleep.

Though people with sleep apnea can still dream, many complain that they don’t remember the last time they did. With obstructive sleep apnea treatment, your body can reach that stage of sleep more frequently.

5. Untreated sleep apnea may increase incidence of sleep paralysis.

Sleep paralysis occurs when you are conscious but unable to move. This usually happens when you pass between the sleep and wakefulness stages. You may be unable to move or speak for a few seconds and even feel as though you are choking. And as the Sleep Foundation explains, there appears to be a link between it and obstructive sleep apnea. So if you wake up frequently feeling like you can’t move, it might be sleep paralysis.

6. If you have sleep apnea, you are at greater risk for car accidents.

A study by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine found that patients with sleep apnea were nearly 2.5 times at greater risk to be the driver in a motor vehicle accident than those without. That’s a pretty alarming statistic. And no one likes to see statistics like that.

Thankfully, many cases of mild to moderate sleep apnea are treatable with a custom nightguard from your dentist. These devices are a great option for those prescribed a CPAP machine that cannot comply with it. However, you should know that only a doctor can diagnose you with sleep apnea. So if you have been diagnosed, be sure to let your dentist know. The Tooth Doc can help you with an oral appliance designed just for you.

Let The Tooth Doc know if you have sleep apnea.

Everyone deserves a good night’s sleep. Please let us know if your doctor has diagnosed you with sleep apnea. We’ll discuss your symptoms in detail and partner with you on a treatment plan to help you get back to restful sleep. Request an appointment with The Tooth Doc today.