Sleep apnea affects up to 22 million Americans in one of its three main forms: obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea, or complex sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is when the tongue closes the airway. In central sleep apnea, the airway is free, but the brain refuses to signal the muscles to allow breathing. And complex sleep apnea combines both situations. In all forms of apnea, the brain attempts to at least partially trigger breathing after a minimal break. Up to 25% of children, including infants, suffer from pediatric sleep apnea as well. If ignored too long, sleep apnea can lead to serious complications including diabetes, heart attack, and stroke. Of course, the right treatment can reverse all concerns. But what are some warning signs of sleep apnea?
Dry Mouth in the Morning
Xerostomia is the medical term for the sensation of dry mouth. This can be caused or due to a number of issues including medications, vitamin deficiencies, and serious health issues. But more often, dry mouth is due to sleeping with your mouth open. While there may be various reasons for that sleep apnea is among the most common. When you have trouble getting enough air during sleeping hours, the mouth opens in response. So waking up parched may be a sign of sleep apnea.
Painful or Stiff Teeth and Jaw
Bruxism is the term for grinding your teeth and it’s usually brought on by stress. Teeth grinding can occur at any time, but it’s most prevalent during sleeping hours. It also becomes habitual quickly. When teeth grinding is combined with other apnea signs, the condition is likely due to the apnea. If you have stress, strain, stiffness or pain in the teeth and jaw and it’s not for an obvious reason, chances are you grind your teeth. Fortunately, your Red Bank dentist has some simple and effective solutions for bruxism. But taking away that sign isn’t a cure for sleep apnea.
You’re Always Tired or Continuously Yawning
The human body needs REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep to refresh and renew. But breathing fluctuations cause the body to be forced into a lighter stage of sleeping so it can remind the muscles to work correctly. When this happens regularly, the result is often grogginess and irritability. However, changes in appetite and difficulty concentrating may also occur. Your alarm clock may show “proof” you got your full eight hours of beauty rest, but if you’re yawning and tired most of the day, chances are you haven’t gotten close to that amount.
You’re a Loud or Noisy Sleeper
Snoring is often the most obvious sign of sleep apnea, but not all snoring is equal. However, if your snoring is loud, jagged, and seems to have a “sawing” edge, it may be apnea-related. This snoring may become loud enough to wake you up or it may cause relationship issues as it continually wakes up your partner. Even if you don’t snore, loud or regular gasping during sleeping hours may occur as your body remembers to breathe. These common warning signs of sleep apnea should be taken seriously, but a simple and effective cure could be as close as your Red Bank dentist. Give us a call when you’re ready to sleep easier.