In honor of my new blog that is launching this week, Sleep Aches, I am going to be discussing some Obstructive Sleep Apnea myths. You may have heard many of these in the past, so let’s address some common falsehoods:
Everyone needs 8 hours of sleep per night
All people have individual needs as far as sleep is concerned. Some people require only 6-7 hours to feel rested, where others need 9-10. As long as you are feeling rested and alert during the day, then you are most likely getting enough. If you are experiencing daytime fatigue and feel unproductive during the day, you may have a sleep disorder.
You can make up for lost sleep on the weekend
Even though you may be able to sleep in a few extra hours on the weekends, that’s not going to make up for the sleep that you didn’t get during the work week. Sleep deprivation can cause over-sleeping on the weekends, which can then lead to insomnia down the road. It disrupts your body’s cycle and causes difficulty in falling and staying asleep. It is optimal to try and keep the same routine everyday, regardless of what time you have to get up.
Waking up in the middle of the night means you’re not sleeping well
Most people wake up at least once during the night, maybe even 2-3 times, but then they are able to fall right back asleep. As long as you are not staying awake for extended periods during the night and feel rested in the morning, then consider yourself normal. Now remember, if other symptoms like snoring, fatigue or headaches present, contact your doctor right away for a sleep test.
You can only have OSA if you are overweight
Yes, Sleep Apnea can be related to obesity, however it is also found in children, and adults who are thin. Causes can be other issues such as a deviated septum, a recessed chin, small upper airway, or small nasal passages. Facial structure often plays a part in the diagnosis of OSA.
If you don’t remember your dreams, you’re not in a deep sleep
Contrary to popular belief, it is normal to forget your dreams. You are most likely still experiencing REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, which is considered “dream sleep” every night. People who do remember their dreams on a fairly consistent basis may already be waking up multiple times during the night due to a sleep disorder like OSA.
Seniors need less sleep than adults
Although we all operate in different circadian rhythms, all adults need between 7-9 hours of sleep per night. It is true that as we age, we tend to get up earlier, but we also then go to bed earlier. So, the total number of hours needed doesn’t change, it just shifts earlier.
Alcohol helps you sleep
Even though you may think that a drink will calm you down, it actually can have the reverse effect, which is disrupting your sleep. You may think that it makes it easier to fall asleep initially, but what about the quality of sleep? Quality is just as important as quantity (if not more) when it comes to sleep. Because alcohol is a depressant, the effects tend to wear off overnight, and that can cause awakenings. Alcohol also reduces REM sleep and increases sleep-disordered breathing. Some people have acid reflux as en effect, which can cause additional awakenings during the night.
Sleeping pills are fine
If you want to avoid chronic insomnia, then you should avoid sleeping pills. Aside from the addictive potential that comes along with sleeping pills, there is an array of side effects. It’s one thing to take a sleeping pill if you’re on an 18-hour flight and you are unable to rest. But if you’re taking sleeping pills on a regular basis, you could build up a tolerance and then your body requires higher doses. Side effects can include dizziness, dry mouth, constipation, changes in eating habits, mental fog, heartburn and headaches.
Going to bed earlier means you’ll sleep longer
Even though you may “go to bed” at 8pm during the week, you may just be retiring to your bedroom. TV shows may be on, computers may be used, and by the time you actually fall asleep, it is closer to 11pm. Alternatively, if your body is not ready to sleep, you may lay in bed tossing and turning for an hour or two. On average, people should stay in bed for 8 hours. And again, keeping a regular routine will help accomplish this.
At Michigan Head & Neck Institute, we exclusively offer treatment for Obstructive Sleep Apnea that consists of creating a custom-fit oral appliance (mouthpiece) which is comfortable and can be adjusted to meet the requirements of each patient. Each patient that chooses an oral appliance (OA) as their treatment will receive follow-up sleep studies (either at-home or in a sleep lab) to ensure the OA is positioned accordingly. Please give our office a call at 586-573-0438 so that we can answer your questions and help you find the right treatment to restore your quality of life.