Sleep apnea is one of the biggest causes of sleep loss for many people. In addition to simply getting a lack of sleep, however, there are also several serious health risks and other concerns associated with sleep apnea, such as:
- Driving and work-related accidents
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Sudden cardiac death
- Memory loss
- Morning headaches
- Impaired concentration
- Decreased sex drive
Because there are many serious risks related to sleep apnea, getting treatment is extremely important. If you think you or someone you love may be suffering from sleep apnea, please contact us today. We can answer any questions you may have, and can help you schedule a consultation with Dr. Edward Shukovsky.
As seen in this diagram, with normal orofacial anatomy, the airway is not blocked by the tongue or soft palate, allowing for easy breathing through the nose. When the tongue and soft palate partially block the airway, they vibrate as air tries to pass through, resulting in snoring. If these structures relax completely and block the airway, air cannot pass through, causing Obstructive Sleep Apnea.
Getting quality, restful sleep starts with good habits. Getting into a nightly routine can help ensure you are getting the amount of sleep you need. These healthy habits, also known as good “sleep hygiene,” can encourage a more restful night’s sleep. Decide on a nightly routine of your own — here are some examples of good sleep hygiene that can help you build and personalize your routine:
- Turn off all digital devices such as tablets and smartphones at least 30 minutes before you go to sleep. The blue light from these devices can delay the production of melatonin, tricking the brain into believing it is still daytime.
- Read a book to help you relax before bed.
- Avoid drinking alcohol right before you go to sleep. The alcohol in your system can disrupt REM sleep, leading to restless sleep and daytime drowsiness.
- Turn the TV off. Watching television before bedtime encourages you to stay up later, which can harm the sleep cycle and lead to poor quality sleep.
- Try eating dinner a bit earlier, and/or eat a lighter dinner. Going to bed with a full stomach can sometimes make lying down uncomfortable.
- Drink a hot cup of herbal tea to help unwind at the end of the night.
- Snack on foods such as honey, nuts, bananas, turkey, eggs, or dairy — each of these foods contain compounds that might be able to help induce sleep.
- Shut off all lights and cover up anything that emits light in your bedroom. Light from sources such as alarm clocks, electronic devices, or street lights can prevent you from being able to achieve deep sleep.
- Cut yourself off from caffeine in the afternoon/evening. Some people are more affected by caffeine than others, but if you find yourself tossing and turning at night after having caffeine later in the day, eliminating caffeine intake after lunchtime may be able to help you sleep better.
- Get some exercise! Avoid exercising right before bedtime, but burning through your energy from the day with exercise can help your body get to sleep more easily once it’s time to count some sheep.
- Do stretches before bed. Stretching can help calm and relax the body, helping you get to sleep.
- If you choose to do yoga to stretch, there is an added benefit of relaxing the mind through meditation.
- If you’re not into yoga, meditation alone can also help you de-stress before bed.
- Take a warm shower to relax the muscles and prepare you for sleep. A warm shower can also be beneficial for those suffering from a cold or allergies, which often interfere with quality sleep.
- Use scents such as lavender or tea tree oil to help soothe you to sleep.
- Adjust the temperature in your room to be between 65 and 72 degrees. Having your room at this temperature can aid in achieving quality sleep.
- Do not nap throughout the day. If you haven’t been getting a full night’s sleep, you may want to take naps throughout the day. Unfortunately, napping too often may prevent you from getting proper sleep at night.
- Keep your pets out of the bedroom. If your pets are disrupting your sleep due to movement or noise, it is probably best to have them sleep elsewhere. If they are exceptionally noisy, be sure to check with your vet to rule out any health concerns.
- In the morning, avoid hitting the snooze button. Instead, set your alarm for the time you actually need to get up, and get into a regular routine of waking up right then and there. Fragmented sleep in between snoozed alarms is low quality and puts your body into a new sleep cycle that it won’t be able to complete, leading to fatigue during the day.
Once you’ve settled into a healthy nighttime routine, if you’re still noticing you’re not getting the kind of quality sleep you should be getting, there may be a more serious issue causing restless sleep. Dr. Shukovsky can help you find out what is causing the issue, as well as work with you to find the best solution to help you sleep better.