The Effects of Poor Sleep On Your Health

sleep apnea

Finding it hard to catch some z’s? Poor sleep quality is not an issue to shrug off. If you aren’t getting the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep your body needs each night, you are putting yourself at risk for many health problems that can develop over time. Memory issues, high blood pressure, a weaker immune system, weight gain and digestive problems can all happen from poor sleep. Your lack of sleep may be due to a busy schedule, but it can also be due to problems such as insomnia or sleep apnea. If your problem is the latter, this is a serious sleep disorder you want to have checked out. Discover the extent of poor sleep on your health and how conditions like sleep apnea can affect you!

Why Getting Your Z’s Matters

Sleep is an essential component to achieving and maintaining optimum health and wellness. It sustains and protects mental, physical and emotional health in children and teens, and is crucial for growth and development.

Getting adequate sleep reduces healing time for injuries and ailments. Not getting enough of it puts you at higher risk for chronic health problems and illnesses. Sleep deficiency has been shown to cause above-average blood sugar levels, increasing the risk of prediabetes and diabetes, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. While your body rests it rebuilds muscle mass and repairs cells and tissues.  Your hormones will also regulate better encouraging a more healthy, properly-functioning body.

A Look at the Numbers

Just how well does the United States stack-up when it comes to adequate sleep? Here are the facts:

  • In studies done by the CDC, 35.3% of adults receive less than 7 hours of sleep.
  • From that same study, 40% reported unintentionally falling asleep during the day and 4.7% reported falling asleep or nodding off while driving.
  • 50-70 million Americans have sleep disorders or lack of rest.
  • The National Department of Transportation reports that drowsy driving is responsible for at least 1,550 fatalities and 40,000 injuries each year.
  • In a University of Chicago study, those who slept more hours a night ended up burning around 56% more fat than those who skipped getting sufficient sleep. Those who were sleep-deprived ended up burning more of their muscle mass than they did fat.
  • The National Institutes of Health recommend that children receive at least 10 hours of sleep, teens 9-10 hours and adults 7-8 to function properly and stay healthy. At least 40% of adults between 20-39 years old are not hitting those recommended standards.

Is Undiagnosed Sleep Apnea Sabotaging Your Sleep?

If you are having difficulty getting consistent sleep each night, or waking not feeling rested, there may be something else going on. Do any of these symptoms sound familiar?

  • Snoring, choking or gasping while you sleep. (Some may awaken by choking or snorting.)
  • Insomnia, disrupted sleep.
  • Frequent daytime sleepiness and fatigue that goes beyond normal tiredness.
  • Decreased mental and emotional functioning or moodiness caused by lack of proper rest.
  • Daily headaches or migraines, especially in the morning.
  • Dry mouth or sore throat upon awakening (from breathing through the mouth at night.)

Sleep Apnea Stats and Facts

Sleep apnea is a condition where the muscles around your tongue and throat relax as you sleep, blocking the flow of air to your lungs. Those who suffer from sleep apnea literally stop breathing in the night, and it can lead to death. Here are some quick stats to bring you up-to-speed on this condition:

  • 1 in 15 Americans have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, which equates to 18 million Americans.
  • It is estimated that an additional 2-4% of Americans have undiagnosed sleep apnea.
  • Males are more likely to have sleep apnea than females.
  • When airways are blocked, those suffering from sleep apnea can stop breathing anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. Breathing without several minutes can damage brain cells or even cause death.
  • On average, sleep apnea can cause breathing to stop 30 times or more an hour. That is probably why fatigue is a common side effect as well.
  • Sleep apnea leads to fatigue, and fatigue leads to workplace hazards and increased risks for car crashes as well as medical problems. Medical problems come about when the body is unable to recuperate and heal itself at night with proper rest. Those who are fatigued contribute to about 20% of fatal car-crashes.
  • Most people with this condition snore very loudly, but snoring is not a sign itself that someone has sleep apnea.
  • Apnea is a Greek word meaning “want of breath”, so sleep apnea basically means “the want of breath during sleep.”

Treating Sleep Apnea

How your sleep apnea is treated will depend on how severe your condition is and if you have any other conditions. One of the most effective forms of treatment is to discover what is causing your sleep apnea. Patients who are overweight or obese will find relief from their symptoms with weight loss and resolution of metabolic syndrome. Other patients may have significant hormonal disorders and require thyroid and/or testosterone support. Sometimes symptoms are caused because of an underlying oral or dental issue where a dentist can intervene to provide care. In other cases, enlarged tonsils may be blocking the airway causing the sleep apnea.  Surgical intervention may be needed in these cases to reduce the volume of the palate.

Medical Devices for Sleep Apnea

There are two main devices used to help treat the symptoms of sleep apnea. CPAP (continuous positive airflow pressure) machines pressurize the air to keep the throat open during sleep. These machines are safe and effective in sleep apnea for patients of all ages including children.

Your dentist may also manufacture a dental device to keep the airway open with a mandibular advancement devices (MAD). These dental devices look like mouth guards and hold the jaw down and forward to allow the airway to remain open. There are also tongue retraining devices (TRD) to keep the tongue from blocking the airway.

Address the Root Causes of Sleep Apnea for Long-Lasting Wellness

Addressing the known sleep apnea triggers will help you find lasting relief from sleep apnea.

At Balanced Well-Being Healthcare, we firmly believe that the best approach to sleep apnea should include not just the treatment, but an integrative and functional medicine approach to root causes. In many cases, once root causes are resolved, the patient may no longer require treatment. That is successful treatment.

Diagnosing Sleep Apnea:  Learn About Home Sleep Test Options

Discovering if you suffer from sleep apnea requires the expertise of a doctor and a sleep study. For patients with high insurance deductibles, and for those who must pay for their sleep apnea tests out of pocket, Balanced Well-Being Healthcare offers a low cost testing method that will save you a lot of money! For more information about the ARES™ home sleep test, follow this link!

To learn more about what we can offer you to improve your sleep and total body wellness call us for a consultation at 970-631-8286. We are anxious to restore your sleep function and get you feeling your best.