According to the American Sleep Apnea Association, as many as 22 million American live with obstructive sleep apnea. Even more unsettling, as many as 80% of those people have moderate or severe sleep apnea that is undiagnosed (and, as a result, untreated). Since current research strongly suggests a close link between untreated sleep apnea and serious physical, neurological, and psychological health problems, getting an official diagnosis and seeking out treatment is essential. Whether your prescribed treatment plan includes an oral sleep apnea appliance from your dentist or a CPAP machine from a sleep doctor, sticking with your treatment will help you enjoy these benefits.
1. Better Night’s Sleep
“Apnea” comes from the Greek word for “lack of breath,” which accurately describes what happens when a sleep apnea sufferer sleeps. Basically, the throat tissue relaxes during sleep, blocking the airway and cutting off the breath. When your body senses the lack of oxygen, it forces the brain to wake up to reinitiate the breathing process. This means that a person with sleep apnea is waking up throughout the night, resulting in sleep debt. Sleep debt causes chronic exhaustion, daytime sleepiness, irritability, and difficulty concentrating on school and work.
2. Better Health
When you stop breathing in the night, your body’s blood oxygen level plummets which triggers the contraction of the blood vessels. The resulting high blood pressure is responsible for triggering problems like irregular heartbeat, heart attack, and stroke. Sleep apnea treatment is designed to keep the airway open, meaning that your blood pressure remains constant.
3. Safer Driver
Treating sleep apnea will help you get a better night’s sleep, which in turn will help you stay focused while on the road. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration sponsored study that found that 28% (nearly one-third) of truck drivers suffer from mild, moderate, or severe sleep apnea. Since sleep apnea in all severities can profoundly affect a driver’s ability to stay alert and focused on driving, the FMCSA opted to include it in the list of conditions which required a “medically-qualified-to-drive” status for commercial truck drivers.