Snoring & Sleep Apnea
Snoring is not a laughing matter any more, now that we know it is a sign of a devastating sleep disorder called obstructive sleep apnea.
What is Sleep Apnea?
As the name implies; during sleep the airway gets obstructed causing the breathing to stop, respiratory effort increase but because the airway is obstructed, air does not reach the lungs, heart rate elevates and the entire body gets in a stressed condition.
Such a crisis during sleep is comparable to asphyxiation. To protect and save the life of the sleeper, the brain must force the person to wake up in order to resume breathing. The cycle of sleeping, your breathing stops and you need to wake to resume breathing is an apnea episode. People affected with this condition could experience as many as 40- 80 apnea episodes per hour.
Signs and symptoms of Obstructive Sleep apnea;
· Snoring: intermitted with long pauses in breathing.
· Awakenings gasping, choking, and coughing.
· Fragmented non-refreshing light sleep.
· Excessive day time sleepiness.
· High blood pressure, cardiac arrhythmia, and diabetes.
Psychological and mental symptoms of obstructive Sleep Apnea;
· Short attention span, poor memory: short term and working memory, and long term memory.
· Clouded intellect, poor concentration, and depressed mood.
· Personality changes; irritability, risk taking behaviors, and impulsivity.
· Decreased sex drive and Impotence.
As a Licensed Dentist; for the last 25 years I've worked with patients who suffered with Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome. Oral devices are particularly useful for treatment of mild to moderate OSA, mode of action is rather simple. We can advance the lower jaw using an adjustable oral appliance that attaches the mandible to the stationary upper teeth. The oral appliance will prevent the mandible and the tongue (the tongue is attached to the mandible) from collapsing backward and obstructing the airway thus maintaining the patency of the airway and the breathing will not be interrupted.
As a licensed Psychologist;
Use the Cognitive Behavioral Reconstruction Therapy approach to deal with the psychological aspect of the syndrome. Depression and anxiety are common complication that CBT usually alleviate its symptoms and reduce severity. Memory enhancing strategies such as Elaborate rehearsal, and Loci (visually memorization of objects locations) were proven useful when used in conjunction with oral appliance that prevented interruption of breathing thus producing profound wakefulness. Dreams and nightmare often associated with the condition gradually disappear when anxiety and depression severity is reduced.