If you think you may have sleep apnea, don’t be embarrassed. With nearly 20 million U.S. adults affected, it’s one of the most common sleep disorders there is. It’s also one of the most undiagnosed. Many suffers can go years without realizing they’re afflicted, which can put their health in jeopardy. Sleep apnea is characterized by repeated pauses in the breathing cycle while you’re asleep. Although we naturally pause our breathing during sleep, when this occurs over a certain threshold, it can begin to affect our blood-oxygen levels. This is what makes sleep apnea dangerous, as it could cause hypertension, increasing your risk of heart attack, stroke, and sudden death. It can also begin to affect your daily life, decreasing your ability to concentrate, and leaving you feeling tired and exhausted.

If you have any of the warning signs below, consider reaching out to your doctor as soon as possible.

Young woman sitting on edge of bed yawning. Being frequently tired could be a sign of sleep apnea.

Are You a Loud Sleeper?

Frequent snoring is tell-tale sign of sleep apnea that should not be ignored. If your partner has complained about your snoring or you’ve repeatedly woken up gasping for air, this could be a sign of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). OSA is the most common form of sleep apnea, and occurs when airways become restricted due to sinuses, weight, or other factors like the size and shape of your neck. If you live alone or your partner is a deep sleeper, it may be helpful to download a snore monitoring app that can record your snoring while you’re asleep.

Are You Frequently Tired?

Another common symptom of sleep apnea is simply feeling tired. If you commonly get 7-8 hours of sleep but feel tired during the day, you may consider consulting a doctor. By disrupting your blood oxygen levels, sleep apnea can actually limit the quality of sleep you receive during the night. This can affect your energy levels and your ability to concentrate. You may also feel quick-tempered, moody, and even depressed. Sleep is so important for your general mood and your body, that any disruptions can negatively impact many aspects of your life.

Can You Sleep Through the Night?

Frequently waking during the middle of the night can be another sign of sleep apnea. Often those diagnosed complain of “fitful” sleep or frequently waking to urinate. Because this fitful sleep is so often attributed to anxiety or too much caffeine, it’s often overlooked by patients. Establishing a baseline for your regular sleep schedule can be helpful in trying to diagnose your sleep troubles.

If you think you fit the bill, it’s suggested that you get diagnosed by a doctor. Certain factors can predispose you for sleep apnea, including being overweight, smoking, and an inactive lifestyle. However, other genetic factors such as an overly large tongue can also increase the likelihood of sleep apnea.

If you have sleep apnea, your dentist can help. Instead of the standard CPAP machine, your dentist can offer a dental device designed to keep your airways open.

If you would like to learn more about your sleep apnea treatment options in Anchorage, please call (907) 274-7691 today for an appointment with a sleep dentist at Denali Dental Care.