Last updated on April 3rd, 2024

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Kim West, MSW, Mom of 2, creator of The Sleep Lady Shuffle

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obstructive sleep apneaI get so many questions from parents about their children and sleep trouble, much of which looks (or tends to look) like sleep apnea. But what I find so many of us miss is stopping for a moment to remind parents that they may also be suffering from obstructive sleep apnea. So many of us “big kids” spend all of our time worrying about the little kids that we forget to worry about our health. In fact, according to the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine, as many as 18 million adults may suffer from sleep apnea.

Do You Snore?

I work with many families who are sleeping separately because one parent snores very loudly on top of the children keeping them up. Often, these families focus on getting their child’s sleep resolved, and then they continue to sleep separately due to the snoring. I’ve found that many parents simply don’t want to go to the doctor because they don’t want to wear a mask (CPAP). Thankfully, there are other options to treat obstructive sleep apnea, and although they may not work for everyone they could work for you!
Sleep apnea occurs when you have blocked or narrowed airways in your nose, mouth, or throat. This may cause your airway to become blocked when your throat muscles and tongue relax during sleep. When this happens, your airway becomes obstructed, or worse, collapses, followed by an unsuccessful attempt to breathe. This causes the oxygen level in your blood to drop, which signals your brain to wake up and breathe. This is why many who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea don’t feel rested after sleep.

Indicators for Obstructive Sleep Apnea in Adults

Sometimes, the indicators for obstructive sleep apnea are brushed off as “annoying” or “just a bad night’s sleep”; but if you haven’t been sleeping well, always feel tired or if your partner keeps telling you to “stop snoring”, you may want to consider this:
The indicators of obstructive sleep apnea in adults are loud, frequent and habitual snoring and breathing during sleep that abruptly stops. Often, the person with sleep apnea isn’t aware of the problem, and can’t figure out why they aren’t sleeping well, or are waking up exhausted. If this sounds like you, please see your doctor TODAY. Sleep apnea is nothing to ignore.
In fact, sleep apnea increases the risks of the following health problems:
• Congestive heart failure,
• Stroke,
• High blood pressure,
• Heart disease,
• Diabetes,
• Obesity,
• Depression, and
• Impotence.
adult sleep apneaIf you do have adult sleep apnea, there are different types of treatments. The most common treatment is a CPAP machine, which stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure, but there are other alternatives. Some people find a CPAP machine difficult to tolerate and get used to because it involves a sleep mask and machine that continuously pumps air into your body to keep your airway open while you sleep.
This means that some people who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea aren’t using the recommended treatment, which means that many adults who need therapy for their obstructive sleep apnea aren’t getting it. As an alternative to the traditional CPAP machine, oral appliance therapy involves a mouth guard (much like the one you wore during sports in school) that you wear at night. Remember, the oral appliances that are used to treat sleep apnea may look similar to sports mouth guards, but they are are not the same. These sleep apnea treatments are mouth guards which help pull the bottom jaw forward thereby opening the airway. These oral appliances are quiet, more comfortable, and easier to get used to, which means that many are able to wear them with less struggle. Now, it’s important to note that not all forms of obstructive sleep apnea can be treated with a dental device.
The above recommendations are strictly for adults who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea. The American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine does not recommend oral appliance therapy for children.
If you suspect that you may have obstructive sleep apnea, please contact your doctor as soon as possible for an evaluation and treatment.
Please be aware that this is an informational campaign sponsored by the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine to raise awareness for sleep apnea and show the benefits of getting a good night’s sleep, especially for parents.
The American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine is giving away 2 $25 Bed, Bath, and Beyond gift cards to my readers as a thank you for reading and being informed about obstructive sleep apnea below!
Please visit localsleepdentist.com to learn more about obstructive sleep apnea if you, or your spouse, exhibit any sleep apnea indicators.
Please encourage your spouse to get evaluated!
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photo credit: aye_shamus via photopin cc

Author: Kim West, MSW, Mom of 2, creator of The Sleep Lady Shuffle

My name is Kim West, and I’m the mother of two beautiful girls, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has been a practicing child and family therapist for more than 21 years, and the creator of the original gentle, proven method to get a good night’s sleep for you and your child. My sleep journey began when I started experimenting with gently shaping my daughter’s sleep by not following the conventional wisdom at the time. After having success (and then more success with my second daughter!), I began helping family and friends and my step-by-step method spread like wildfire, exactly like an excellent night of sleep for a tired parent should!