After a long day, it’s finally time for bed. You and your spouse climb into bed and just start to fall asleep … then the snoring appears. Deep, loud snoring that could wake the dead. You’ve tried ear plugs, noise machines, and even sleeping pills. Nothing seems to work. If this isn’t you, then you could be the one snoring.
When this happens a few times, it’s tolerable. You might not feel great the next day, but you can go to bed early and make up for lost time. When you have sleep apnea, that’s probably not going to happen. Sleep apnea is a serious medical condition where you stop breathing while you sleep. You panic, but as soon as you start to wake up, you can breathe again. You fall back asleep, only to have trouble breathing in a little while. This cycle happens over and over again. If you have sleep apnea, chances are you are never getting a good night’s rest.
However, what’s sleep apnea and what’s just snoring? Is sleep apnea a big deal, or is it just some lost sleep? There are many myths about sleep apnea. Here are the top four myths and the truths behind them.
Myth #1: If you snore, then you have sleep apnea.
Reality: Snoring is a sign, but you can snore without having sleep apnea.
There are many causes of snoring. If you had too much to drink, you could have trouble staying asleep and can snore a bit. The same is true for when you are overweight. Even completely healthy people can have the odd night of snoring. If you snore, it’s not automatic that you have sleep apnea.
With sleep apnea, your windpipe tends to slowly get tighter. That’s because your neck muscles relax too much, and their weight begins to bend your airway. You can still breathe, but pushing air through a smaller, bent windpipe makes noise. People with sleep apnea usually snore very loudly almost every time they sleep.
Myth #2: Only men who are overweight can get sleep apnea.
Reality: Anyone can get sleep apnea.
Being overweight or obese increases your risk of sleep apnea. Also, there’s an idea that men are more likely to snore than women. Since sleep apnea is associated with snoring, some think women cannot get sleep apnea.
Both ideas are not true. Being female or thinner does not prevent you from getting sleep apnea. Even children can suffer from this condition.
Myth #3: Sleep apnea is annoying, but it’s not dangerous.
Reality: Losing that much sleep can lead to many serious health problems.
Losing the occasional night of sleep is not dangerous. With sleep apnea, you almost never sleep through the night. This much lost sleep can be very dangerous. In the short term, you will probably suffer from irritability, fatigue, inability to focus, and more. Now, imagine driving to work and fighting traffic with all of that affecting you.
That’s just the immediate problems. People with sleep apnea can easily have problems with heart disease, high blood pressure, depression, and falling asleep at the wheel. Nevermind how all of this can impact your job, your family, and your relationships — sleep deprivation is a form of torture. If you have sleep apnea, you are literally suffering. Things can quickly get dangerous.
Myth #4: CPAP machines are the only way to treat sleep apnea.
Reality: Many patients get relief by using an oral appliance instead.
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machines are often used to treat sleep apnea. However, they have serious drawbacks. You have to sleep with a mask on attached to a hose and machine. How well do you think you’ll sleep with that? The machine itself can make a racket, and you need to keep it clean so bacteria don’t get into your lungs.
At our Nashua, NH dental office, you can get an oral appliance instead. This small device is worn over your front teeth. It shifts your jaw just enough to help keep your airway open at night. It can help sleep apnea in a way that actually makes it easier to fall asleep.
Sleep apnea can be a serious problem, even for those who don’t have it but sleep nearby. If you are ready to finally get the good night’s sleep you need, call us today at 603-546-7460.