Sleep apnea is a sleep-breathing disorder where you experience stoppages in breathing throughout the night. These pauses last at least 10 seconds but can persist much longer. They can happen hundreds of times per night! If you have sleep apnea, you wake up feeling unrested and fatigued throughout the day. You may also experience morning headaches, impaired concentration, memory loss, and irritability.
Your sleep apnea could be one of three types; obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea, or complex sleep apnea. However, the most common type is obstructive sleep apnea. Your breathing stoppage occurs because there is a partial or complete blockage in your airway. Usually, this is due to soft tissues sagging and cutting your body off from oxygen. When your brain realizes there is excess carbon dioxide and a lack of oxygen, it’ll awaken you briefly to resume breathing. While most cases of obstructive sleep apnea don’t result in death during sleep, there are other dangerous consequences of not getting the restorative sleep you need every night. These consequences speed up your biological clock. But sleep apnea treatment in Aberdeen slows it back down so you can live longer.
Sleep Apnea’s Effects on Your Body
If you don’t get the sleep you need for a night or two or even a week, you aren’t likely to suffer health consequences. But those with obstructive sleep apnea never get the restorative sleep they need, and many don’t realize it. The awakenings during the night are too brief for us to remember but long enough to disrupt our sleep cycles. Approximately 80% of obstructive sleep apnea cases go undiagnosed, underdiagnosed, and untreated. Untreated sleep apnea puts you at risk for
- Cardiomyopathy (enlargement of the muscle tissue of the heart)
- Heart failure
- Heart attacks
- Anxiety and depression
- Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease.
How Obstructive Sleep Apnea Treatment Can Help
The consequences of untreated sleep apnea speed up your biological age (epigenetic age), but treatment can slow it back down. Researchers tested 16 non-smoking people with obstructive sleep apnea and compared them to a control group of 8 individuals without sleep apnea. The test took place over one year. First, participants had blood tests to determine biological age at the beginning of the experiment. Researchers gave those with obstructive sleep apnea CPAP machines (continuous positive airway pressure) for treatment. After one year, they tested everyone’s biological age again. Rene Cortese, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Child Health and the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women’s Health at the University of Missouri-Columbia, laid out the results of the test:
“…the OSA patients who adhered to CPAP showed a deceleration of the epigenetic age, while the age acceleration trends did not change for the control group. Our results suggest that biological age acceleration is at least partially reversible when effective treatment of OSA is implemented.”
The speed of aging decreased for those who adhered to CPAP treatment, suggesting that for those with sleep apnea, treatment will help them live longer.
The Best CPAP Alternative
While the test used CPAP as the treatment method for sleep apnea, it’s not the only effective treatment. Oral appliance therapy is a CPAP alternative that lets patients sleep peacefully without wearing a mask with tubes and a noisy machine. It is just as effective as CPAP clinically for those with mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea. Still, in a real-world application, it’s much more effective because the treatment is easier to use, wear, and fits seamlessly into lifestyles.
Oral appliance therapy uses an apparatus that we custom design for you. You pop it in your mouth each time you sleep, and it holds your jaw in a position where your airway remains unobstructed, even when your soft tissues sag as you sleep. It’s comfortable, convenient, easy to clean, silent, and doesn’t require electricity or water to work.
For those with mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea, oral appliance therapy could have the same effect as CPAP on your biological age. Using your treatment each time you sleep slows down the clock because it puts you at a lower risk for complications that arise with untreated sleep apnea.
Schedule an Appointment with Aberdeen Sleep Dentist
Your Aberdeen sleep dentist, Dr. Mandy Grimshaw, focuses on sleep apnea treatment. She’s the top choice for people in the area (and beyond!) looking for effective treatment. Call (910) 692-4450 or make an appointment online today.