Sleep apnea is one of the most undiagnosed disorders worldwide. The National Sleep Foundation estimates that nearly 18 million people in the United States suffer from this condition, and about half of all cases go undiagnosed. Unfortunately, sleep deprivation can cause serious health problems such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and depression. Knowing some of the most common signs of sleep deprivation can help you monitor your health.
Decreased Attention and Memory
Struggling to remember people’s names, or what someone said to you a minute ago does not mean that you have a memory problem. Mental processing requires a great deal of focus. Sleep loss decreases your ability to focus, even when you feel completely invested in the task at hand. Studies have found that inadequate rest has about same impact on mental processing as alcohol intoxication. Driving tired can also increase your risk of being involved in an accident due to decreased attention.
Indecisive people are often called flakey because they can’t make up their minds about simple matters such as what to eat for dinner. Decision-making requires in-depth mental processing in order to weigh two options against one another and determine which is better for you. As with focus, your brain needs a lot of energy to complete the required cognitive acrobatics.
Your decreased capacity for mental processing can also impact your motor skills. Movement, such as walking, takes more focus than most people realize. You might not consciously think about where to put your foot when you walk, but your brain focuses on the environment and where to place each footfall. Low concentration and mental processing can turn you into a stumbling klutz.
Your body relies on sleep to recharge your energy supplies. Without proper rest, your body tries to replenish your energy through other means, especially eating. Your brain increases production of ghrelin, a hormone that causes hunger. Ghrelin often makes you crave sugary and fatty foods for fast energy. Since your body uses this energy right away, you will feel hungry a short time after you’ve eaten as your body struggles to continue charging. Unfortunately, this cycle can lead to rapid weight gain, which increases sleep apnea.
Nighttime disturbances can also increase your chances of acting impulsively. You might feel more inclined to give in to anger and say spiteful things to the people around you that you would not usually say. Fighting cravings is also more difficult when tired, which contributes to weight gain.
Reclaim the Night with Sleep Apnea Treatment
If you experience any of these symptoms, or feel tired even after a full night’s rest, you might benefit from a sleep study to find out if you suffer from sleep apnea. This potentially life-threatening condition causes you to stop and start breathing throughout the night. Each time you stop breathing (called apneas) causes your brain to send signals that wake you up in order to restart your oxygen flow.
Non-surgical sleep apnea treatment can help improve your symptoms. In many cases, an oral sleep apnea appliance coupled with habit changes can help you get more rest. Other cases of sleep apnea might require the assistance of a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine for a steady oxygen flow all night.
If you would like to learn more about how non-surgical sleep apnea treatment can help you get more rest, please call (303) 691-0267 for an appointment with a Denver sleep dentist at the TMJ Therapy & Sleep Center of Colorado.