Sleep apnea is surprisingly common, but many people do not understand it. Some think it’s no big deal because it’s just losing some sleep. You did that back in college, and you can always sleep late on the weekends to make up for it. Others think any kind of snoring means you have sleep apnea for sure.
At our Tulsa, OK dental office, we can treat sleep apnea and help you get the sleep you need to stay healthy. That’s why we wanted to share several common myths about sleep apnea, along with the truth for each.
Myth: Only CPAP Machines Can Treat Sleep Apnea
Truth: Dental appliances and NightLase™ can also treat sleep apnea.
CPAP stands for “Continuous Positive Airway Pressure.” This machine includes a mask that you wear while sleeping. A hose connects the mask to the machine. You get a soft but constant stream of air when worn. This helps keep your airway open when you sleep, allowing you to sleep longer and better despite having sleep apnea.
However, CPAP machines can be noisy and cumbersome to use. Imagine wearing a mask every night when you go to bed. At our Tulsa, OK dental office, you can get to different sleep apnea treatments instead. A dental appliance is a mouthguard-like device worn over your teeth as you sleep. It shifts your jaw enough to help your airway stay open. NightLase™ uses a special dental laser to tighten the tissue in the back of your throat. This makes it more likely to stay open so you don’t wake up feeling like you cannot breathe.
Myth: Sleep apnea is nothing serious. You can always catch up on sleep later.
Truth: Sleep apnea can lead to dangerous health problems.
The problem with sleep apnea is that it’s almost constant. There is no opportunity to catch up on lost sleep because what keeps you up at night doesn’t go away on its own. Things keep getting worse. In the immediate future, you can face problems with irritability, mood swings, fatigue, and loss of focus. (Imagine driving the kids to school each morning feeling wiped out like that.)
If sleep apnea goes on untreated, things get even worse. You could be facing depression, heart disease, high blood pressure, and more. Sleep apnea is much more than just lost sleep. It’s a serious condition that can impact your whole life and those of the people around you.
Myth: Only people who are very overweight get sleep apnea.
Truth: Being overweight increases your chances, but anyone can suffer from sleep apnea.
There is an idea out there that if you are overweight, you will snore. There’s truth to that, of course, but that’s probably why some people think sleep apnea is just something that happens to obese people. Being overweight definitely puts you at a higher risk of having sleep apnea. However, this condition can affect people regardless of weight. If you are fit or skinny, you can still have sleep apnea problems.
Myth: If you snore badly, you definitely have sleep apnea.
Truth: Bad snoring is a sign of sleep apnea, but you can snore for different reasons.
With many sleep apnea situations, your airway begins to slowly close as you sleep. It’s not a sudden change. As your airway closes, you’re still trying to draw in and push out the same amount of air. This is why you snore so badly. That air passing through a small space creates vibrations and noise.
However, sleep apnea is not the only reason you can snore. Alcohol, prescription medicine, and regular fatigue can all increase your chance or snoring or make it more loud. The key is how often you snore badly. If you do so occasionally, you are likely okay. But if you snore like that almost every time you fall asleep (even during naps), then you need to be evaluated for sleep apnea.
Myth: Women do not get sleep apnea.
Truth: Both men and women can suffer from sleep apnea.
When some people think about bad snoring, they have images of a big guy snoring loudly. As with being overweight, there is some truth to that. Males tend to have problems with sleep apnea more than females. However, just like sleep apnea can affect anyone regardless of weight, it can also affect anyone regardless of gender. Women can snore just as easily as men can, so they can have sleep apnea just as easily as men too.
Myth: If you have sleep apnea, you just need to sleep on your side.
Truth: Changing how you sleep will not help with sleep apnea.
Many people can find relief from snoring if they sleep on their side. That’s true, but sleep apnea is different. It usually includes snoring because the airway is closing. How you lie in your bed will not affect that. Besides, you can have sleep apnea without having any snoring at all.
If you are waking up most of the time feeling exhausted and irritable, call us today at 918-925-9687 for an appointment to see if sleep apnea treatments can help you.