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A lack of quality sleep can lead to many serious health concerns, and can even threaten your life. Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder that prevents more than 18 million American adults from receiving a good night’s rest by disrupting their breathing patterns. If you frequently sleep poorly or struggle to remain asleep at night, please call the office of Progressive Sleep & Wellness at 866-54-SLEEP. Our skilled and caring dentist can provide treatments for sleep apnea, as well as facilitate screenings and arrange for testing. We invite you to contact us today to learn more about sleep apnea in Gilbert, Arizona, and to schedule your consultation with Dr. Sheldon Sullivan.

What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder marked by interruptions and pauses in breathing patterns. The most common form of this disorder, obstructive sleep apnea, is caused by obstructions in the airway – for example, the tongue rolling back in the throat or collapsed tissues in the airway. Pauses in breathing can last from a few seconds to minutes, and may occur 30 or more times in a single hour. Normal breathing typically resumes with a loud snort or choking sound.

Sleep apnea is a chronic, or ongoing condition, and disrupts your sleep by moving you out of a deep sleep and into a light sleep, making the quality of your sleep poor. It often goes undiagnosed, as it cannot be detected during routine visits or by blood tests. Most people don’t even know that they have sleep apnea. Family members or bed partners may be the first to notice the signs of sleep apnea.

Anyone can develop sleep apnea, including children. However, some people are at greater risk. Men, older adults (especially age 40 and older), people with thicker necks, people who are obese, and people with heart disease or who have suffered a stroke may be at greater risk for sleep apnea. You are also at greater risk if you have a relative with sleep apnea, if you smoke, if you drink alcohol, or if you use sedatives and tranquilizers.

With obstructive sleep apnea, your airway collapses or becomes blocked during sleep, and often causes loud snoring. This form of sleep apnea is caused by relaxation of the muscles in the back of your throat. When these muscles relax, your airway narrows or closes. Your brain will sense this inability to breath and will briefly wake you up to reopen your airway. These awakenings are usually very brief, and you may not remember it. In fact, you may even think that you slept well all night!

Obstructive sleep apnea can affect anyone, but is most common in people who are overweight, and in small children who have enlarged tonsil tissues in their throats. Sleep apnea can also be caused by certain medical conditions or by the use of certain medications. These medical conditions and medications include heart disease, stroke, obesity, sedatives, tranquilizers, narcotic pain medications.

Other types of sleep apnea include central sleep apnea, which occurs when the brain doesn’t send proper signal to the muscles that control breathing, and complex sleep apnea syndrome, which occurs when someone has both obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea, and is also knowns as treatment-emergent central sleep apnea.

For more information on sleep apnea, and to make your appointment with our dentist, please call our office today.