We all know someone with chronic snoring. Maybe that’s you? Or your sleeping partner? Snoring is not just annoying, it can also interrupt your sleep cycle and negatively affect your overall health. Heavy snoring can also be a sign of a more serious medical issue, such as sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep. Depending on its severity, sleep apnea can be very dangerous.
This is because disruptions in sleep cycles at night can cause you to experience a lack of focus, headaches, irritability and memory impairment during the day. More serious medical issues resulting from sleep apnea can include high blood pressure, depression, memory, stroke, and diabetes, among other things.
The good news is that there are a variety of treatment options available to treat the symptoms of sleep apnea. As a member of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine, I have studied the health risks related to chronic snoring and sleep disorders extensively. I often partner with sleep specialists to diagnose and treat your sleep disorder with the least invasive therapies possible.
At-home sleep studies
In order to determine and start the right treatment option, it’s necessary to diagnose the type and severity of the problem. While some diagnosticians require that patients spend a night in a sleep lab, dental patients at Beth Caunitz DDS, in Manhattan, can do an at-home sleep study. You will be given a recording device to take home and wear while you sleep. You then return the device to the office. The data collected on the device is shared with a board-certified sleep specialist and, together, we come up with the best treatment recommendation.
Here are 3 of the most common treatment alternatives.
#1 Oral Appliances
If you are experiencing mild to heavy snoring or sleep apnea, an oral appliance could be the right solution for you. Also known as a “snore guard,” this custom fit appliance works by pulling your lower jaw forward to keep your airway open. During an office visit, a digital scan of your mouth will be taken and an oral appliance that works best for you will be custom made. This treatment option is noninvasive and will improve your ability to sleep soundly, as well as, the quality of your life.
#2 Lifestyle Changes
There are several lifestyle changes you can adopt that are proven to reduce snoring and improve the quality of your sleep. Reducing alcohol before bedtime and avoiding sleeping pills, sedatives, and certain prescription medications (consult your doctor) could be a good start, as they tend to relax the muscles in the throat which can cause your airway to collapse and make it more difficult to breathe. Sometimes simple behavioral changes such as sleeping on your side may help, as sleeping on your back can cause your tongue to block your airway – and this can cause snoring. Other potential causes of snoring can include smoking, weight gain or lack of exercise.
#3 Breathing Devices
Another option would be to try continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy. A CPAP machine is a breathing device that is used most often to treat sleep apnea. The device uses a hose and mask to deliver constant air pressure that maintains an open airway.
If you are experiencing snoring or the symptoms associated with sleep disruptions, call Beth Caunitz, DDS at 212-206-9002 to set up a consultation, arrange an at-home sleep study and review your treatment options.