Nothing disrupts a good night’s sleep more than loud snoring, and it is also considered to be the leading cause of husbands having to sleep on the couch. For medical experts, loud snoring should not be ignored because it can be a sign of sleep apnea, a potentially life-threatening condition.
Sleep apnea is the cessation of breathing while a person is asleep. Shallow breathing with pauses that last for about 10 to 20 seconds each is considered sleep apnea. Due to this, lack of oxygen takes place and results in a jolting awakening. This induces sleep deprivation wherein a person suffers from fatigue, drowsiness, slow reflexes and poor concentration during the day.
To understand more about sleep apnea, one must know how to differentiate its kinds. There are three types namely obstructive, central, and complex sleep apnea.
Types of Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type of all. It happens when the soft tissues at the back of the throat, including the tongue, relax during sleep and block the airway. Once the airway is blocked, it causes a loud vibrating sound which we know as snoring. The second type is central sleep apnea. It is the less common type because it involves the central nervous system. This happens when the brain fails to send signals to specific muscles that control breathing. Also, snoring is not that evident for people suffering from central sleep apnea. The last type is complex sleep apnea wherein it is the combination of both obstructive and central sleep apnea.
It is very important to pay attention to the signs and symptoms of sleep apnea because it can happen to anybody. It does not choose any gender, race or age. It is best to know the following signs and symptoms because it might save a loved ones’ life or even yours.
Signs and Symptoms
The major signs of sleep apnea are loud snoring with long pauses in breathing, choking, snorting, and gasping for air during sleep. Complaints of people suffering from sleep apnea may include waking up with a dry mouth, coarse voice, sore throat, throbbing headache, restless sleep, fatigue during the day, and lethargy. Before complaining how loudly other people snore and judging them for being lazy, take time to know how they are doing especially in the way they sleep.
Some people may ignore the fact that they can be candidates for sleep apnea, especially if they are not aware of the risk factors. Obesity, family history, old age, and cigarette smoking are among the high risk factors. Medical conditions such as allergic reactions, nasal congestion, and other ailments that involve the airway may also cause sleep apnea. If you suffer from any of these symptoms, it is best to consult a doctor.
Sleep Right and Avoid Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea can be alleviated by improving one’s sleeping practices. Changing one’s body position while sleeping can prevent it from happening. Sleeping on one’s side is recommended for persons suffering from sleep apnea. It is because when a person sleeps on their back, gravity makes the relaxed tongue drop on the soft tissues of the throat. This causes obstruction and loud snoring. Propping an extra pillow beneath your head elevates it from the body. This also prevents the tongue from dropping onto the air passage. The ideal height for the head is four to six inches because anything higher than that can lead to a stiff neck or a strained shoulder.
Sleep apnea is treated in several ways. Doctors usually recommend sleep apnea mouthpieces. These are devices designed to alleviate excessive snoring and bruxism, best known as teeth grinding. Most sleep apnea mouthpieces are custom fit to prevent choking and slipping.
Several users and doctors investigated the pros and cons of using sleep apnea mouthpieces. Since these devices are geared towards providing relief and comfort, it is important to take time reading the reviews of several products in the market.
One benefit of using sleep apnea mouthpieces or mouths guard for snoring is that it provides immediate relief from sleep apnea and excessive snoring. It is also non-invasive compared to surgery and other permanent dental devices. Also, it is only worn during sleeping unlike braces and dental splints which have to be worn most of the day for the whole world to see.
There are some disadvantages, though. Since it is portable, one can easily misplace their mouthpiece. Likewise, some people feel uncomfortable having something in their mouths while they are sleeping. Others may take a very long time adjusting and this can lead to discomfort and lack of sleep for some. Such mouthpieces should also be cleaned and brushed just like teeth. More or less, poorly cleansed mouth guards can be very unhygienic.
CPAP is an acronym that stands for Continuous Positive Airflow Pressure. It is the most popular treatment for moderate to severe sleep apnea. CPAP is a device wherein a mask is used to provide a constant stream of air while sleeping. It is like having an oxygen treatment from the hospital minus the huge green tank. Some CPAP machines are now designed in a compact way, thus making them more portable for travel.
One benefit of having a CPAP device is that it provides continuous airflow to the passages while sleeping. This ensures that the body, particularly the brain, is getting enough oxygen. People who used the CPAP device felt improvements in their bodies. These claims include higher stamina during the day, boost in focus and concentration, and most of all a restful sleep. The disadvantages, on the other hand, are similar to those of sleep apnea mouthpieces. Since the CPAP is used externally, the person using this may find it annoying and uncomfortable at first. For some, it restrains them from changing their position while sleeping because the device might be displaced.
Since developers of the CPAP saw the problem with its bulky, face-hugging mask, they decided to make the Provent. Provent uses nasal cannulas wherein it is fitted over the nostrils. This is smaller and less intrusive than the traditional CPAP. Aside from the size difference between the cannula and the mask, Provent is a more expensive than the traditional CPAP.
Popular Anti-snoring Mouthpieces Brands
There are popular brands of anti-snoring devices available in the market and approved by the FDA. The three most popular brands are Snore-Ex, PureSleep and ZQuiet.
Snore-Ex is a device placed into the mouth that helps eliminate snoring. The advantage of Snore-Ex is that it is way cheaper than a customized mold made by a dentist. The mold is designed to fit any mouth by just following the step-by-step instructions included in the package. Also, it can be used along with the CPAP which enhances the benefits provided by the product. Snore-Ex also helps alleviate bruxism or unconscious teeth grinding. With these benefits, Snore-Ex is considered a bargain because it’s a 2-in-1 product that targets both snoring and bruxism.
PureSleep is another FDA approved product. It is a self-molded retainer that aims to reduce snoring by positioning the lower jaw slightly forward from its normal position while sleeping. Through this, it helps open the airways and minimizes the vibrations we all know as snoring. PureSleep has an upper and lower piece that can be joined together. The good thing about PureSleep is that the user has the chance to custom-fit the mouthpiece depending on his bite. Once the pieces are joined, the device is boiled to soften which makes it mold perfectly on the teeth in less than a minute. PureSleep boasts its patented adjustable design, FDA-approved materials, and dental recommendation.
ZQuiet is an anti-snoring device designed by a Doctor of Dental Surgery named Dr. Avery Lieberman. His 20 years of experience as a Dental Sleep Specialist has made him one of the leading experts in this field. He used soft elastomer that is BPA and latex free in making ZQuiet. Through this, he was able to comply with the FDA’s strict guidelines regarding consumer safety. ZQuiet works by fitting it into the mouth. It holds the jaw forward wherein it keeps the airways open in the throat. The developers of ZQuiet are proud of their “Living Hinge Technology,” a mechanism found in the device that allows the jaws to move naturally during sleep. Since a soft type of rubber is used for this product, people are less likely to wake up with painful jaws.
Sleep apnea and excessive snoring have no right to take away anyone’s restful night. Thanks to our sleep experts and dentists, we are able to treat restless nights by using their helpful inventions that target sleep apnea. The Dalai Lama once said, “Sleep is the best meditation.” It is because sleep and rest rejuvenate a tired mind and body that has been working all day.