One night of little sleep or broken sleep can put you in a bad mood but, after a few nights of good rest, you’re back to your normal self. Prolonged periods of poor sleep quality, like those experienced by people suffering from sleep apnea, cause chronic exhaustion, a condition responsible for a wide range of serious physical and mental health problems. Already linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and sexual dysfunction, new research has linked poor sleep quality with serious depression.
What the Research Says
Findings published in the January 2014 issue of Sleep, the official journal of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, demonstrates a direct relationship between how long a person sleeps and their likelihood of suffering from the symptoms of depression. One study looking at nearly two thousand adult twins found that people at a genetic risk for depression who received five hours or less of sleep per night were 53% more likely to suffer from depressive symptoms. Another earlier study also found that adolescents who regularly slept less than six hours a night were at a higher risk for major depression as well.
Taking a Dynamic Approach to Sleep Apnea Treatment
While the Sleep studies did not specifically address obstructive sleep apnea, chronically poor sleep quality is one of the disorder’s primary characteristics. In fact, sleep apnea-related exhaustion has been linked in scientific literature to decreased cognitive ability, decreased motor dexterity, increased risk of automobile accidents, and poor emotional control.
Clearly, sleep apnea can pose a serious threat to your mental and physical health, but treating the disorder is within your reach. Many healthcare professionals recommend taking a two-pronged approach to treating obstructive sleep apnea:
The rising star of sleep apnea treatment is oral appliance therapy, a type of mouthpiece that positions the jaw in such a way that the airway stays open and the wearer breathes comfortably through the night. Only dentists trained in dental sleep medicine can prescribe oral appliances. A sleep doctor may recommend wearing a CPAP machine or surgery to reduce excess throat tissue.
To get the most out of your prescribed sleep apnea treatment, make a few changes in your everyday life. Exercising regularly (as little as 40 minutes or walking four times a week according to one study) can reduce the severity of your sleep apnea symptoms by 25%.
About Dr. Marco Cueva
Marco Cueva, DDS, MS is a board-certified periodontist with extensive training and experience providing a full range of advanced dental care services, including sedation dentistry. New patients can schedule an appointment or consultation with Periodontic Excellence
at our Allen, TX dental office by calling 972-390-9944.