There is an epidemic of sleep problems in the U.S. Long-term sleep deficits put men and women at risk of significant health problems.
If you have a chronic issue that keeps you from getting restorative sleep, don’t dismiss it.
Two sleep disorders that are typically confused are insomnia and sleep apnea.
What is insomnia?
Insomnia prevents healthy sleeping in several different ways.
“People with insomnia tend to have difficulty falling asleep (onset), staying asleep (maintenance), and/or they wake up too early in the morning. Treatment for insomnia can include behavioral, psychological, medical components or some combination thereof.” sleepfoundation.org
Now, let’s consider sleep apnea.
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a potentially serious, chronic disorder where your breathing periodically stops and starts while you sleep.
Suspect you might have sleep apnea?
Common symptoms of sleep apnea
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Sleep deprivation
- Frequent, loud snoring
- Choking or gasping sounds
- Episodes of not breathing
- Mouth breathing
- Dry mouth/throat
- Morning headaches
You need a medical diagnosis to know if you have this condition. Age and obesity are risk factors. Snoring loudly and not feeling fully rested after a full night’s sleep can indicate sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is more common in men, but women shouldn’t discount it if they experience the symptoms.
How is sleep apnea treated?
Sleep apnea can be treated with:
- An oral appliance prescribed by a dentist
- Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP)
- Surgery (for severe cases)
Medical and dental professionals prescribe treatment based on the type of apnea, the severity of the apnea, and accompanying medical factors.
In addition to professional treatment, lifestyle changes can help. Medical professionals recommend losing weight and exercising more.
If your bed partner says you stop breathing temporarily during sleep, see your doctor immediately. To find a specialist, ask your primary physician for a recommendation. The American Board of Sleep Medicine certifies sleep doctors in the United States.
Your healthcare provider will diagnose whether you have sleep apnea and the type you have. Your physician may recommend a visit to a sleep disorder clinic.
If your physician recommends a dental appliance, consult a dentist who specializes in treatment for sleep disorders
Insomnia vs. sleep apnea?
Both rob patients of quality sleep. A person may have both conditions. But they aren’t the same thing.
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