How Is Your Sleep Hygiene?
Before jumping to the conclusion that you have sleep apnea, it’s a good idea to review your sleep hygiene: the steps you take to help yourself fall asleep at night. Sleep medicine has developed several recommendations.
First, get yourself on a regular sleep schedule. This can help your body clock better regulate your sleep cycles, and make falling asleep easier at night. Make sure that each full night of sleep contains all the hours of sleep that you need. Resist the temptation to try to make up sleep on the weekend. Not only does this not work, but it can actually mess up your body clock.
People dispute the impact of blue light on your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep for a full night. However, most agree that it’s best not to do things like checking your phone or watching television from bed. This is not necessarily about the blue light exposure: it’s about conditioning your body to think of your bed as where you sleep, not where you stay up watching videos.
Stop eating at least an hour before bed, and don’t drink alcohol within four hours before bed. Yes, alcohol can help you fall asleep, but it has a stimulant effect after a few hours that can disrupt your sleep, making it harder to reach the restorative levels of sleep, such as REM sleep.
If you’re having sleep problems, it’s best to stop drinking caffeine around noon. Up to half of the caffeine you consume may still be in your system six hours later, and it can take up to ten hours for the body to process a caffeinated drink.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that causes you to stop breathing at night. You stop breathing long enough for your blood oxygen to drop and alert your brain sensors of danger. As a result, you awaken enough to gasp or choke to catch your breath and alert your heart to start pumping faster.
Most people with sleep apnea aren’t aware they do this at night. It’s these moments of gasping for air throughout the night that doesn’t allow you to rest peacefully. It’s especially hard to reach the deeper levels of sleep, including REM sleep. They continue to interrupt your sleep, forcing you to awaken in the morning feeling tired. No matter how many hours you spend in bed, you are actually experiencing a lack of sleep.
How Do I Get Tested for Sleep Apnea?
If you suspect sleep apnea is the cause of your exhaustion, the first step is to get tested for sleep apnea. We will take your insurance guidelines into consideration at your first appointment and get this coordinated right from our office! The good news about a potential in-home study means you can do it from the comfort of your own bed. This data then gets sent off to a board-certified sleep physician who interprets the results. With your diagnosis, you can continue your visit with our Omaha sleep dentist for your treatment.
Sometimes, however, sleep studies at a lab are required. Usually, sleep studies are required if:
- A home sleep test doesn’t give clear results
- You have other sleep disorders
- You have serious medical conditions
If it turns out you might need a sleep study, we can refer you to a sleep lab.
Sleep Apnea Treatment
If you have sleep apnea and you would like to wake up feeling refreshed and rested, we can provide you with the right treatment for your needs. Although it’s effective, most patients tend to steer clear of CPAP to treat their sleep apnea. This is because the machine is loud and uncomfortable to use.
Instead, our patients prefer custom oral appliance therapy. We create custom-made oral appliances to fit your mouth precisely to give you a comfortable way to treat sleep apnea. The oral appliance pushes the jaw forward to open up your airways so you can breathe throughout the night.
If you’re interested in treating your sleep apnea so you can wake up feeling refreshed, give our office a call for a sleep apnea treatment appointment in Omaha today at (402) 493-4175.