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How much sleep do we really need?

Winter is here and it is harder than ever to leave the warmth of your bed every morning. While the majority of us manages to get out of bed after a few times hitting the “snooze” button, some people chronically struggle to wake up and stay awake during the day.

If you are regularly waking up with headaches, feeling groggy or experiencing sleepiness during the day (when you should be awake and alert) it is helpful to see how you respond to different amounts of sleep. Refer to the chart above and try sleeping an extra hour or more each night for at least two weeks. If you do not feel any better, you might be suffering from a condition called Obstructive Sleep Aponea.

What is Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA)?

OSA is caused when the soft tissue at the back of the throat collapses during sleep, blocking the airway and disrupting sleep as the body reflexively responds to clear the blockage. Patients who suffer from OSA may have poor neck muscle tone, restricting space and causing an obstruction and snoring.

Problems linked to OSA include:

  • Fatigue the next day
  • Fluctuating moods
  • Reduced cognitive function
  • Social withdrawal
  • Decreased libido
  • Medical problems, including stroke & heart problems

    How Dentists can Help

    The oral anatomy presents multiple signs of sleep apnea, which is why dentists with a trained eye play an extremely important role when it comes to screening for sleeping disorders.

    CPAP  Continuous Positive Airways Pressure machine is the standard and most effective treatment for OSA. It involves wearing a mask to bed with air pumped through a tube to keep the airway open. It is, however, often hard to tolerate, and compliance may be poor.

    Oral appliances custom made to fit your mouth is a popular alternative. This can only be made by dentists who receive specialised training in this area. If you’re worried about OSA, speak to the experts at Hearts Dental Clinic. We can establish if this is an issue for you and treat it effectively.