25% of adults have this sleep problem

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Thursday, July 22, 2021

For many, the idea of having a traditional sleep study is intrusive and inconvenient. Going to a strange place and being monitored all night long is a hard sell for a prescribing doctor. Home sleep studies have made the procedure much more accommodating. With a few straps, nose canula, microphone and finger strap, a sleep study can be performed at home. Home sleep studies are effective at screening for severe sleep disorders and diagnose most mild to moderate disorders.

Sleep-disordered breathing most commonly is due to obstructive sleep apnea, but may include many other habits such as mouth breathing or snoring. A sleep study will monitor your breathing habits and blood oxygen concentration. If breathing pauses and blood oxygen drops, the study can identify the severity and frequency.

When blood oxygen levels fall, the body’s response to stress is turned on increasing cortisol levels in the body. The fight-or-flight response increases the heart rate and blood pressure. Higher levels of cortisol affect insulin regulation. Risk for gastric reflux occurs as negative airway pressure develops. Clenching of the jaws and grinding of the teeth can occur. Headaches, anxiety and depression are more frequent; fibromyalgia, restless leg syndrome and chronic fatigue syndrome are correlated. Turning on the body’s response to stress at the time we should be at rest can have drastic consequences.

Untreated sleep-disordered breathing can increase the risk for stroke four times. There is a five times greater risk for hypertension, a two and a half times greater risk of developing diabetes or cancer, and a 30% greater risk of heart attack.

Sleep Apnea affects 25% of adults between the ages of 30 and 70, yet only 15% of adults are screened. If you think you may have a sleep disorder, talk to your physician. Your doctor can order a sleep study, and along with a sleep specialist, determine if any disturbances exist. The gold standard treatment has been a CPAP device. For many mild to moderate cases and for those uncompliant to the CPAP, your dentist can make an oral appliance to treat sleep apnea.