This week I will be helping identify and talk about some of the interesting sleep disorders. The most common one is snoring. What the most recent studies have found is that snoring even if it is not associated with sleep apnea may be indication of health issues.
In children sleep apnea may not be present but snoring may be a sign that your child may need to be treated. Snoring alone can disrupt sleep, limit the amount of sleep your child may be getting or may just prevent your child from getting into the deeper sleeps needed to grow and to heal. If your child has symptoms of ADD or ADHD it may be due to that sleep disruption.
If you find that your child is snoring evaluation by their doctor is the best way to get to the bottom of the problem. Some dentists are also looking at sleep apnea, as they can visualize issues with their upper airway. The physician may have the child evaluated by an ENT or have them do a sleep study to evaluate the extent of the snoring and to see if their breathing is being affected.
In adults snoring is not just associated to obstructive sleep apnea. Snoring itself has been associated with high blood pressure and diabetes. They have also associated it with dementia and memory loss. Some people may only snore when they reach certain stages of sleep causing the disruptions to happen at approximately the same time each night. Usually during REM sleep, where we dream, are muscles are the most relaxed and this can bring on snoring and sleep apnea. Also it may be worse when someone is sleeping on their back because the tongue relaxes and moves to the back of the throat.
If you have snoring and you have been tested for sleep apnea with a mild or negative result than you may still want to treat it. An oral appliance made by a dentist who specializes in sleep would be your best option. Because different oral appliances work for different people I would make sure that the person you are working with knows how to create more than 1 appliance. You may also want to attempt to use positional therapy so you do not sleep on your back. You can use a wedge pillow which will allow you to sleep with your head elevated. The more productive way however is the tennis ball method, where you create a pocket on the back of a t-shirt, place a couple of tennis balls in them and sleep in it for about a month. This will help encourage you to stay off your back when you sleep.
Snoring, no matter how we look at it, is not a fun for the person who has it or the person who has to listen to it. You should do what you can to deal with it to keep yourself and your family as healthy and well rested as possible.