The apneic episodes occur when your airway opening is clogged by soft tissues at the back of the throat that go slack when you are in a reclined position. Your brain is aware that you have stopped breathing, and it wakes you briefly to resume a normal breathing pattern. Typically, you are not even aware that this is going on, but it happens over and over while you are asleep, disrupting your rest. As a result, when you wake up, you will still feel tired even though you believe that you were asleep for eight hours.
When you don’t get enough rest at night, you’ll probably be dragging throughout the day. Your performance at work or school may suffer. You may become moody and irritable and not fun for your friends and family to be around. Daytime drowsiness can even be hazardous. In some cases, driving while sleepy is nearly as dangerous as driving drunk.
Daytime drowsiness isn’t the only concern related to sleep apnea, either. This condition appears to be associated with a higher risk of health issues including high blood pressure, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Sleep apnea can also contribute to a compromised immune system.
Fortunately, sleep apnea responds well to treatment. Patients can wear a custom-designed oral appliance that is similar to wearing a mouthguard or a night splint. The appliance keeps your jaw or tongue forward, which moves the soft tissues away from the airway opening. This eliminates the obstruction that causes the apneic episodes. Your sleep will no longer be disrupted, and you won’t suffer the health effects of insufficient oxygen levels.
To eliminate excess fatigue during the day, visit our office for a sleep apnea evaluation and to get treatment. Your quality of life and your health will both improve.