Sleep apnea can interfere with your quality of life on many levels. While waking up with a dry mouth and sore throat may be obvious signs of a disruption occurring while you sleep, things like daytime fatigue, may be shrugged off as being relatively minor. However, these subtle symptoms could be a sign of a deeper condition, such as sleep apnea, which could be the obstacle interfering with your daily life.

This is never more true or frustrating than when you are trying to set your New Year’s resolutions. If you are like so many of us , your resolutions often look quite similar from year to year. This is because each year, you continue to find yourself struggling to make those big lifestyle changes you value most.

If this describes you or someone you love, sleep apnea could be part of the problem that needs to be addressed before those resolutions can finally come to pass. In this article, learn more about how the diagnosis and treatment of sleep apnea can get you closer to achieving your big New Year’s goals!

Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is one of the most commonly diagnosed sleep disorders. One of the toughest obstacles in treating sleep apnea is first helping patients realize that they may be struggling with sleep apnea. Often people attribute their symptoms to work stress, poor diet, a bad pillow—anything but the true root—which is a temporary pause in breathing during sleep.

Knowing the symptoms of sleep apnea can help to make it easier to spot:

– Loud snoring

– Feeling fatigued even after a full night’s sleep

– Low daytime energy

– Sudden awakening with a gasp or choking sensation

– Morning sore throat, dry mouth and/or headache

– Irritability and mood swings- Getting up very frequently to use the bathroom

– Trouble concentrating and remembering

– Falling asleep at the wheel

– Feeling like you have insomnia

Since sleep apnea can affect children and adults, sometimes a parent or partner may be the first to recognise and detect the symptoms of sleep apnea. Knowing the symptoms can help you to potentially identify sleep apnea in someone you love.

Diagnosing Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is more common in some people than others. In particular, sleep apnea runs in some families, so if your family includes others who have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, you may be more likely to also be diagnosed.

But certain physical characteristics can also predispose people to sleep apnea. The most common characteristics include:

– A thicker than average neck width (16 or 17 inches or greater).

– A thicker tongue or tonsils.

– More soft palate tissue.

– A receding chin or narrow jaw.

– Being overweight or obese.

– Having a history of nasal or respiratory issues, including a deviated septum.

– Having acid reflux.

– Being age 40 or older and male.

Sleep apnea is typically diagnosed via a sleep study, completed at either a sleep center with professional monitoring or in your home with portable electronic remote monitoring equipment.

Treating Sleep Apnea with Oral Appliance Therapy 

Dental Clinics such as the Beacon Dental Clinic in Dublin have pioneered the use of oral appliance therapy for the treatment of sleep apnea and sleep related breathing disorders. An oral appliance is a device worn in the mouth only during sleep. The device fits like a sports mouth guard or orthodontic retainer and prevents the airway from collapsing by either holding the tongue or supporting the jaw in a forward position. With an oral appliance, dentists can minimise or eliminate the symptoms of sleep apnoea in mild to moderate cases.

Dentists with training in oral appliance therapy work closely with sleep physicians in the diagnosis, treatment and ongoing care for sleep related breathing disorders. The Irish Sleep Society, the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommend that a physician must diagnose sleep disorders including sleep apnoea. Sleep physicians at sleep laboratories use an overnight sleep study to detect and diagnose sleep apnoea.

Once a patient is diagnosed with sleep apnoea or a sleep related breathing disorder, dentists may provide treatment. Dentists assist patients in the selection and fitting of an oral appliance and provide long-term follow-up care.

Sleep Apnea-Related New Year’s Resolutions

So many popular New Year’s resolutions read like a lifestyle modifications to-do list. For instance, did you know that the most popular New Year’s resolution nationwide is to “lose weight?” Weight loss can also help to ease the symptoms of sleep apnea and improve sleep quality at the same time.

Another popular resolution is to quit smoking, which can help to improve breathing and circulation, increase oxygenation in the blood, improve overall cardiovascular and respiratory health and aid in getting better sleep.

Getting in shape and eating better are also very popular New Year’s resolutions. These are two essential lifestyle adjustments for reducing the symptoms and dangers of sleep apnea while improving your sleep and quality of life.

How to Finally Achieve Your New Year’s Resolutions

According to Forbes, only about 8 percent of people who make New Year’s resolutions actually achieve them. By doing just four simple things, you can increase your chance of being part of the successful 8 percent:

– Keep believing you can do it.

– Keep your resolutions simple.

– Keep the steps to achieving your resolutions tangible.

– Track your progress regularly by writing it down.

For example, believing in yourself – may mean visiting your doctor to find out if sleep apnea could be standing between you and your weight or health goals in the New Year.

Finally, you can support yourself by putting it down on paper as you track your progress. Finding out that you have sleep apnea can feel stressful or daunting at first, but the truth is that often it is a ticket to a much better quality of life. By getting better sleep at night, you then have more energy for daily life.

Let the Beacon Dental Clinic help you achieve your New Year’s resolution – contact us today