When you wake up in the morning, do you feel refreshed and ready to tackle the day? If so, you’re in the minority. Statistics show that even out of people who get the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep per night, only 20% wake up feeling rested.

So if we’re getting enough sleep, why do we feel so tired? The answer may have more to do with the quality of the sleep than the quantity.

22 Million Americans Have Sleep Apnea

Mark Dunayer, DMD discussing Sleep apnea care with a patientObstructive sleep apnea refers to a sleep disorder in which the patient stops breathing for brief periods while asleep due to an obstruction of the airway. People with sleep apnea may stop breathing hundreds of times throughout the night. As you can imagine, this kind of experience doesn’t lend itself to restful sleep — and it isn’t good for the body, either.

Estimates suggest that somewhere around 22 million Americans suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, with a staggering 80% of those cases undiagnosed. When it comes to poor sleep quality, sleep apnea takes the cake. Symptoms like daytime sleepiness, morning headaches, difficulty focusing, and irritability can be red flags for sleep apnea during the day, although the major hallmark of the disorder comes while you’re sleeping: loud snoring.

But while the daytime symptoms can be inconvenient, it’s the larger health issues that come with sleep apnea that really make the disease scary. Research has shown that untreated sleep apnea is tied to deadly health problems like stroke, heart disease, and kidney disease, among others.

Of course, treatment can reduce or eliminate both the inconvenient symptoms and the deadly ones. But if you’re one of the millions of undiagnosed cases, you may never get the treatment you need.

Your Dentist Can Treat Sleep Apnea

For a sleep apnea diagnosis, you’ll need to visit a sleep clinic. But once you’ve been diagnosed, you may consider seeking help from a surprising resource: a sleep dentist.

Your doctor’s first recommendation for sleep apnea treatment will probably be CPAP, which stands for “continuous positive airway pressure.” To use this device, you’ll wear a mask whenever you sleep. This mask will force air into your airway, keeping it open and preventing sleep apnea episodes.

This device is extremely effective, which is why it’s seen as the first line of treatment against sleep apnea, but can also be extremely uncomfortable. Your dentist can offer an alternative: An oral appliance, like a mouthguard, designed to hold your jaw in a position that will prevent the airway from closing. No mask, no machine, just an easy, effective solution to sleep apnea that you can fit into your pocket.

Remember that sleep apnea is a potentially deadly disease, especially if left untreated for a long period of time. If you suffer from any of the common sleep apnea symptoms, it’s important that you get the sleep apnea treatment you need to ensure that you are healthy not only at night but for the rest of your life. For help with sleep apnea in the West Nyack, NY area, be sure to contact our Rockland County dental office at (845) 627-7645.