More than 18 million Americans deal with sleep apnea – a condition that causes the back of the throat to collapse while they are sleeping, which blocks the airway, automatically reducing the amount of oxygen delivered to all of their organs. People with sleep apnea often snore loudly and stop breathing suddenly for short periods of time. When the blood-oxygen level drops low enough, the body wakes itself up, sometimes even hundreds of times each night. This happens so quickly that your body doesn’t even realize it has woken up, but you may wake up in the morning feeling restless and unrefreshed.
Did you find yourself relating to situations in the afore-written paragraph? You may have sleep apnea. Here is a list of symptoms that may continue to present themselves more with age and weight gain:
- Unintentionally falling asleep during the day
- General daytime sleepiness
- Unrefreshed when you wake up in the morning
- Waking from sleep with a choking sound or gasping for breath
- Loud snoring
If you believe you may have sleep apnea, it may be a good idea to talk to a dentist who specializes in sleep apnea treatment. Before you go, your dentist may ask you to answer the following, so it may also be a good idea to think about answers to these questions beforehand:
- What time did you go to bed each night?
- What time did you get up each morning?
- How many times did you wake up during the night?
- Did you feel well-rested when you woke up in the morning?
- Do you regularly take naps during the day?
- Did you feel sleepy during the day?
- Did you feel rested during the day?
Visit the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine’s website to find a sleep apnea specialist near you.