Getting enough high-quality sleep each night is essential for your health and well-being. Unfortunately, many people do not sleep enough or have poor sleep when they do manage to rest. Sometimes this is due to external factors, but sleep disorders play a role as well. Up to 70 million adults in the United States suffer from one or more sleep disorders, and sleep apnea is a common one. It’s helpful to understand the biggest risk factors for developing sleep apnea and to talk to a professional if you have concerns about your sleep.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
First, what exactly is sleep apnea? This is a sleep disorder where a person repeatedly stops breathing during sleep. This is often, but not always, accompanied by snoring. It’s also important to note that not all snoring occurs due to sleep apnea.
There are three types of sleep apnea: obstructive (OSA), central (CSA), and complex. OSA occurs when your throat muscles intermittently relax and block the airway. CSA occurs when your brain fails to tell your body to breathe regularly. during sleep. Complex sleep apnea is a combination of these two forms.
Certain factors increase an individual’s risk of developing sleep apnea. It’s important to be aware that none of these guarantees that a person will have the condition, and even someone without any risk factors can have sleep apnea.
Here are some of the most common sleep apnea risk factors:
- Weight: Studies have shown a correlation between an increased body mass index (BMI) and the risk of developing sleep apnea.
- Age: Risk increases the older a person gets, up until the 60s or 70s.
- Anatomy: Those with a larger tongue and/or a shorter, lower jaw are more likely to develop OSA.
- Sex: Males are more likely to develop sleep apnea, especially in early adulthood.
- Smoking: Individuals who smoke cigarettes are more likely to have sleep apnea. Quitting smoking reduces this risk.
- Hormonal Conditions: Certain hormonal abnormalities and conditions, such as an underactive thyroid, can contribute to swelling near the airway, increasing the risk of sleep apnea. Many of these conditions also affect body weight, which could explain the increased risk.
- Family History: If others in your family have developed OSA, you may be at a greater risk.
- Other Medical Issues: Heart and lung conditions can increase the risk of sleep apnea.
Signs Of Sleep Apnea
If you have any of the above risk factors, it’s worth paying extra attention to see if you notice signs of sleep apnea. Again, since anyone can develop this condition even without risk factors, it’s worth seeing a doctor if you see these signs regardless of other factors.
- Gasping for air at night
- Dry mouth upon waking
- Mood changes, e.g. irritability
- Difficulty staying focused during the day
- Lower libido
- Sleepiness during the day
- Urinating frequently during the night
- Morning headaches
- Excessive sweating during the night
Sleep Apnea Treatment
Treating sleep apnea improves your quality of sleep and helps preserve your health. At Smith Dentalworks, we collaborate with Vivos doctors to offer the innovative Vivos system. This reshapes your palate and helps correct sleep apnea, providing lasting relief.