Yes, some dads snore. But it’s not just a reason to make fun of him. In fact, it may be life threatening!!
Snoring is a ‘gateway sign’
The literature is very clear. Not every person who snores has sleep apnea and snoring is often just snoring. But, and this is a very important point, loud snorers are about 90% more likely to have Obstructive Sleep Apnea! When people snore at a conversational level, they fall into the loud category, and quiet snorers don’t bother other people in the house. What that all means is that if you know dad snores or if he ‘shakes the walls’ there’s a 90% chance that he is dealing with Obstructive Sleep Apnea or OSA!
When people suffer with OSA, their bodies are simple trying to rest and recover and sleep, but go into panic mode because all of the sudden they can’t breathe. This sets off the same alarms that happen with you miss a step on a flight of stairs. A hormonal and chemical reaction impacts the entire body and they wake up out of the deeper sleep. Unfortunately, our bodies actually need the deeper sleep. That’s when rest and recovery happens and it is the deeper sleep that allows us to heal. Hormone regulation and management of the systems that keep us alive all require both good quantity and quality of sleep.
It’s even more dramatic with kids. There’s no reason for children to snore, and if they sleep with their mouth open or snore while they sleep, they need medical attention!
But I sleep great!
The signs of poor sleep are hard to see because it happens while we are asleep. Often people say they sleep great because they fall asleep before their head hits the pillow, or they sleep fine but have to wake up to pee. Others know they don’t sleep well because they just can’t turn off their brain, but it’s stress and not a sleep issue. There are some keys to getting great sleep and it is related to everything we do while we are awake!
It should take about 15 minutes to fall asleep. If it’s less than 10 minutes or “before your head hits the pillow” you are over tired or exhausted. If you just spent the day hauling hay, that makes sense. On the other hand, if you are asleep before you lay down every night, there’s an issue that is damaging your health. It’s the same when you lay awake for 30 minutes every night or wake up at 3:00am every morning. These are all signs that there is a serious and likely life-threatening issue your body is dealing with and, fortunately, there are some great solutions to sleep issues today!
OSA is a root cause!
When your body goes into the fight or flight reaction every night because you are gasping for air, your blood pressure and heart rate both jump up. In fact, one of the earliest signs of OSA is high blood pressure. For people who are taking more than one blood pressure medication, there’s almost a 90% risk of OSA! If left untreated, the scope of issues ranges from chronic disease problems like hypertension and stroke risk to dementia to poor blood sugar control to high stress and exhaustion. In many cases, it advances to severe levels of OSA and Central Sleep Apnea and people simple stop breathing while they sleep and don’t start again. Others have massive heart attacks in their sleep.
Historically, we said people died of natural causes in their sleep but we know now that there is not a lot that you would die of in your sleep that is natural. That’s when we rest and heal, not have heart attacks or stop breathing!
We’re here to help…
At Aesthetic Dentistry of Georgetown, we have been helping our patients screen for OSA and manage snoring for almost 20 years. Long before the ADA recommended every dentist screen for OSA, we have been educating our patients and offering excellent solutions for mild and moderate OSA and have a panel of health care professionals to help in the more severe or advanced sleep and airway issues. For our patients, we offer a routine at home sleep monitor to those who are at risk. This gives us some insight and metrics to measure the quantity and quality of your sleep and help you to get the rest and recovery that you need. We have also been using 3D CT imaging for years to measure the volume and screening for any restrictions or constrictions.
If you are concerned about the quality of your sleep or happen to fighting to get your blood pressure under control, we are happy to set up a free consultation to talk through the various signs or symptoms that you may be dealing with. If it’s dad, maybe this year instead of making fun of him for shaking the walls with his snoring, help him to get a good night of sleep. It may well save his life!