If you’re not sleeping well, or waking up tired every morning, there’s a good chance that some form of sleep disorder is preventing you from getting the rest you need. Falling asleep is a process, and any time that process is interrupted, you have to start all over again. Snoring and sleep apnea are the biggest threats to a good night’s sleep because both can wake you up, and both are heavily influenced by your weight.
Dr. Phil Cozzi, medical director of the Elmhurst Memorial Sleep Center in Lombard, Illinois, says, “There’s a relationship between sleep and obesity and it goes like this: People who are more tired are eating more.” However the correlation goes much further than that. People who are overweight are much more likely to suffer from sleep apnea. Losing weight can significantly reduce the symptoms of sleep apnea.
This means that when your sleeping is disturbed, you can get on a vicious cycle of eating more to overcome your sense of fatigue which leads to more weight gain, which leads to more sleep apnea, which results in less sleep.
So how do you know if you’re suffering from sleep apnea? The usual signs include waking up feeling tired even after “sleeping” through the night. Morning headaches are another sign. Feeling moody and drowsy throughout the day and your spouse or family complaining about your snoring are also signs.
Sleep apnea is caused two ways. The most common is when your airway becomes obstructed or narrowed due to fat deposits or soft tissue collapsing within the throat during sleep. The much less common source of sleep apnea is when the brain simply forgets to breathe. Often this is the result of years of untreated sleep apnea affecting the respiratory control centers in the brain. In severe cases, a person can stop breathing 50 times an hour, sometimes for up to 90 seconds.
There are three ways to treat sleep apnea until a patient can get their weight down. The most effective treatment is something called CPAP — Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. The CPAP machine provides respiratory ventilation through a mask that fits over the nose and mouth, with air provided by a machine that sits next to the bed. The biggest downside of this solution is the nighttime mask and sound of the air pump, which could take some time to get used to.
For those who cannot sleep with the CPAP system, we offer Oral Appliance Therapy, which involves a mouthpiece that keeps the soft tissue within the throat from collapsing. There are several types of sleep apnea appliances that we can work with to help you sleep better.
The third treatment for sleep apnea is surgery. This is often recommended for patients with enlarged tonsils and adenoids (the tissue where the nose meets the throat) or other soft-palate tissues. We prefer to try less-invasive approaches first, but if those soft tissues are the cause of your sleep apnea, the surgery can be a lifesaver.
To learn more visit our sleep apnea and sleep apnea treatment pages. To make an appointment to see Dr. Matthews about problems sleeping, click here . We look forward to helping you and your loved ones sleep better soon.