December 28, 2019
Most people with sleep apnea – about 80%, according to the American Sleep Apnea Association – don’t even realize that they have it. As such, when they realize they’re not getting the quality rest they need at night, they might use sleeping pills or another kind of sleep aid. Unfortunately, this often ends up making the condition much worse. If you have sleep apnea or suspect you might have sleep apnea, read on to learn why you should stay away from sleep aids until you’ve been treated by a professional.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a disorder where your breathing is constantly interrupted during the night, forcing you to wake up briefly to get some oxygen. The most common form of the condition is obstructive sleep apnea, which normally occurs when the muscles and tissues in your mouth and throat fall back on the airway. If you have sleep apnea, over the long term you could experience frequent drowsiness, irritability, and eventual heart problems.
How Do Sleeping Pills Affect Sleep Apnea?
Many sleeping pills contain benzodiazepines, a type of drug that affects the nervous system. They work by relaxing the mind as well as your muscles. If you already have sleep apnea, this is usually a problem; the more relaxed your muscles are, the worse the obstruction of the airway can become. As a result, your breathing will actually decrease while you’re asleep, making an already dangerous disorder even more severe. And since the brain will be affected as well, your body will go without oxygen even longer than normal before being woken up.
What About Other Sleep Aids?
Some people turn to opioids when they have trouble falling asleep, but like benzodiazepines they can interfere with your breathing, making your sleep apnea worse. Others use alcohol since it has a sedative effect, but it usually wears off after a couple of hours; after that, you won’t sleep as deeply and can be easily woken up.
What’s the Right Way to Treat Sleep Apnea?
Now that you’ve seen the negatives of sleep aids, you’re probably wondering what the right way to treat sleep apnea is. Many professionals recommend a CPAP machine to force air into your throat while you’re asleep. If you have a hard time tolerating this kind of therapy, a dentist can give you a special oral appliance that keeps the airway open by repositioning your jaw.
When you’re not getting enough rest at night, you might be tempted to settle for the fastest solution, but with sleep apnea, choosing the wrong kind of treatment could be worse than not getting any treatment at all. Always take the time to have your condition properly diagnosed and let a professional come up with a plan; that way, you’ll be enjoying sweet dreams again in the near future.
About the Practice
Here at Dolfield Dental, we’re constantly refreshing our services and technologies while still maintaining our dedication to a partnership approach. We’ll always take the time to help you explore all of your options so that you can make informed, confident decisions. If you think you’re suffering from sleep apnea and want to learn more about oral appliance therapy and other options, you can make an appointment at our office in Owings Mills by visiting our website or calling (410) 902-4110.
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