One effect of sleep apnea is reduction of restful sleep. In other words we are logging in the sleep time but not getting our beauty rest. In addition we feel more “crabby” from it.
What happens in sleep apnea? I will answer this rhetorical question. Our body is trying to fall asleep. The muscles are relaxing and releasing the tension in them.
The output of adrenaline type hormones that are responsible for muscle contraction that maintains the tension throughout the body is dropping. The problem is that these same muscles including the tongue manage the throat, preventing us from choking during the day.
In those people who require greater muscle management of the throat and of posture to manage this with more adrenaline while awake, relaxation and sleeping poses a greater problem, for as these muscles relax, the tongue drops back into the throat progressively towards blocking it totally in what is described as choking or an apnea event.
As the process progresses, we often hear snoring leading to apnea or choking events that end with “snorts”. Throughout this period the body is attempting to maximize air intake by increasing the adrenaline hormone output in response to the collapsing of the tongue. The adrenaline wakes us to a very light, non-restful sleep stage. Nudging a person while they are snoring will partially awaken them for temporary cessation of the snoring, which may last only seconds.
Behind the scenes, the body is constantly repeating this during snoring to prevent the tongue from falling completely back into the throat with the effect of choking and apnea. Imagine the effect of this constant arousing of the body on feeling rested during the day. Imagine the “stress” placed on the entire system.
No wonder there are newer revelations of the relationship of snoring and apnea to high blood pressure, cardiovascular incidents, even fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, mood swings, depression and numerous other chronic disorders.
Of course this affects our appearance, forms furrows between our eyebrows, to bags under our eyes to allergic shiners, to muscle tension and postural breakdown. All of which can change from a good “nights” sleep.
Sleeping on our stomach or side, instead of our back, helps decrease the effect of gravity pulling your relaxed tongue into the throat. In some of us it can reduce or eliminate snoring. The term for this is “positional therapy”. The negative pressure of air flowing through the throat can still suck the relaxed tongue backwards; potentially blocking the throat just like the collapse of a soft plastic can block it when we drink a milk shake.
Oral appliances hold the tongue more forward and out of the throat helping to counter this, as well as the tongue falling back. Nasal CPAP blows air through the throat and wind pipe into the lungs dilating the flexible areas of the throat in the process. Although this can get air into almost anybody by increasing the air pressure, only about 32% of sleep apnea patients can tolerate wearing and using the CPAP apparatus. Oral appliance therapy, while not seen as effective for some individuals diagnosed with more severe sleep apnea, appears to be the more preferred treatment approach.
Oral systemic balance therapeutics takes traditional oral appliance
use to a new level of care addressing these issues round the clock, including postural changes of the head, neck, back and jaw posture compensations of clenching and bruxing or grind-
ing to compensate for impaired oral function of the tongue and its relation to the throat through its main functions of speaking, swallowing and breathing.