Sleep apnoea and dysfunctional breathing
If you’ve ever had to face a day without a good night’s sleep, you’re probably already aware of how important it can be to get enough rest. Dysfunctional breathing can have a big impact on your ability get enough sleep.
Dysfunctional breathing can encompass common problems like snoring, but might also include Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA). OSA is a condition that should not go untreated. Your dentist can help you identify problems with your breathing or quality of sleep.
On this page
- Signs of dysfunctional breathing
- What is Obstructive Sleep Apnoea?
- Who gets OSA?
- How is OSA treated?
Signs of dysfunctional breathing include:
- restless sleep
- loud, persistent snoring
- headaches upon waking
- daytime sleepiness
- poor memory
- acid reflux near bedtime
- weight gain that is unaffected by diet or exercise
- lack of concentration
Dysfunctional breathing can affect the people who live with you too. Your partner or family members might tell you that you snore, or that they can hear you gasping for air while you sleep. If your breathing patterns are affecting you or a loved one’s ability to get enough sleep, it’s time to speak to a health professional.
What is Obstructive Sleep Apnoea?
OSA occurs when the airway is partially or fully blocked during sleep. Usually, this is because the tissues and muscles in the upper airway collapse and narrow your air passage. This sort of blockage can cause the brain to “wake” the body with spasms and choking or gasping for air.
Left untreated, sleep apnoea may cause, or contribute to, an increased risk of other health issues like high blood pressure, depression, stroke, diabetes, heart rhythm disturbances and other conditions.
Who gets OSA?
OSA doesn’t discriminate! People of all ages, body types and backgrounds can experience OSA. However, you may be at a higher risk if you:
- are a male over the age of 65
- are overweight
- smoke or drinks
- have a family history of OSA
- experience allergies or other conditions that cause nasal blockage.
How is OSA treated?
Dental appliances: your dentist may recommend an appliance to wear while you sleep. These specially-designed appliances often fit inside your mouth similar to a mouthguard or whitening tray. There are different types of devices, so you’ll need to consult a dentist trained in OSA treatment to determine the best one for you.
Lifestyle changes: it may be possible to treat your OSA through lifestyle changes like losing weight, reducing your alcohol intake or quitting smoking. Your dentist or doctor can advise on whether this is enough to address your OSA or if there’s anything else you can do alongside these changes.
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP): a CPAP machine is a portable device that uses a face/nasal mask to deliver pressurised air. This helps hold the palate, nose and throat tissues open.
Surgery: this may be an option if more conservative options (like dental appliances or a CPAP machine) aren’t working for you. Several different types of surgery can assist with OSA, so speak to your doctor if you think this is the right treatment for you.