Snoring can be funny, but only if you’re not the one losing sleep.
Worse, it can be a symptom of sleep apnea. This is when your airway gets blocked while you’re trying to sleep. You suddenly wake up in a panic because you’re suffocating. As soon as you’re even partially awake, your airway acts normal again. Sleep apnea can cause you to wake up like this over 200 times each night! That means your mind and body are not getting the rest they need.
Here are six dangerous consequences of sleep lost through sleep apnea.
- Car accidents: The reason that texting and driving are illegal most places is because of distractions. If you’re trying to read a text, you’re not paying attention to the road. Most of the time, you’re going to be fine. Driving can be so safe, it’s boring. If something does happen on the road, it normally happens incredibly fast. You may have seconds to react. If you’re texting and distracted, you are much more likely to get into an accident.The same can happen when you’re exhausted from sleep apnea. Without proper rest, your brain gets more easily confused and distracted. Your mind wanders. You could even fall asleep at the wheel. It’s called micro sleep, and you are literally asleep for seconds or minutes without realizing it. Given that you’re likely driving a 2-ton vehicle around 65 miles per hour, even a moment’s distraction could be dangerous.
- Depression: One way to torture someone is through sleep deprivation. If your brain doesn’t get the time off it needs, the chemicals in your brain begin to fall out of balance. At first, this manifests as irritability. You can snap at people simply because you’re exhausted. If your brain is hurt like this for long enough, that irritability can blossom into real depression or bipolar disorder. In extreme cases, you could even develop impulsive behaviors, paranoia, or thoughts of suicide. Depression is treatable, but it can still be dangerous.
- Sleepwalking: With sleep apnea, you still get some sleep from time to time. It’s not restful sleep, mind you. Your brain and body aren’t getting the time they need to heal and relax. But you can fall asleep for a little bit. Given how often sleep apnea wakes you up, it’s not surprising to know that people who suffer from this disorder can experience sleepwalking. You’ll be asleep, but you can talk, move around, and even do things without waking up. In fact, waking a sleepwalker can result is screaming and violent behavior. Add in how sleepwalkers can hurt themselves, and you can see how this can be dangerous.
- Diabetes type 2: People who have type 1 diabetes are born with it. It’s a congenital disorder, so you either have it because of your genes or you don’t. Type 2 diabetes is different. Yes, genetics plays a big part. People develop type 2 over time as a result of lifestyle as well. When you are deprived of sleep, your body starts to overproduce insulin. While it’s not completely understood why, your insulin then starts doing a poor job. It’s like having too much insulin makes it harder for it to do its job. That leads to high blood sugars and type 2 diabetes.
- Hypertension: Sleep apnea happens when you don’t get enough air during sleep. Consequently, you aren’t getting enough oxygen either. Without oxygen, your cells will start to starve. They use it to consume the glucose provided by your blood. Your body has a way of helping with this. It starts to pump blood harder and faster. This gives what little oxygen is in your bloodstream to all parts of your body. It works, but there is a side effect. All of that blood moving harder and faster puts extra stress on your circulatory system. This leads to high blood pressure, otherwise known as hypertension. This problem can damage many parts of your body.
- Heart disease: The same pressure put on by all of that blood racing through your body can also damage your heart. In order to get the blood pumping so fast, your heart has to work overtime. In the short-turn, that could be the same as exercising. But since it can happen all night long, this is just too much. Instead of making your heart stronger, it makes it damaged. That can lead to heart problems, including strokes and heart attacks. It’s hard to get more dangerous than that.
Sleep Apnea Devices Can Help
There are two ways to help prevent sleep apnea from ruining your nights. A sleep apnea machine (also known as a CPAP machine) is sometimes recommended, but these have big downsides. You’d have to wear a mask connected to a hose and noisy machine all night. Many people say they cannot sleep with all of that, which only makes sense. At our Nashua, NH dental office, we have a different sleep apnea treatment. An oral appliance is a small, comfortable device that rests over your teeth. It shifts your jaw just enough to help keep it open at night.
Don’t waste any more nights. You deserve a good night’s sleep. Call us today at 603-546-7460 for your next appointment.