Your Healthy Family: Results of my oral appliance on my sleep qu - KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

Your Healthy Family: Results of my oral appliance on my sleep quality

Your body comes hard wired when it wants to sleep, but you can often move the wake up alarm on your body clock. Your body comes hard wired when it wants to sleep, but you can often move the wake up alarm on your body clock.

We're finishing up Sleep Awareness Week with an update on my personal quest to stop snoring that began nearly a year ago.  I began this quest so that my wife could get a good night’s sleep and not be disturbed by my snoring, that at times can knock the paint off the walls.  I didn’t really think about how my snoring, which can be a sign of sleep apnea might be affecting my health.

Before Dr. Christina Cairns dove into solving my snoring, she sent me home with a home sleep test to determine if I had sleep apnea, and to what degree if I did.  While an oral appliance is a great solution for snoring, and mild and moderate sleep apnea if the apnea is severe a C-PAP is the gold standard for the best treatment.

The results of my first home sleep test, showed that I had mild obstructive sleep apnea and on average I stopped breathing 9 times an hour.  Dr. Cairns determined that a dental appliance would be a good place to start, and she shared the results of the test with my primary care doctor who also agreed.

After being fit for the appliance, I began using it.  Dr. Cairns took a few months figuring out exactly how far to move my lower jaw out during sleep to enlarge my airway.  Once the appliance was dialed in, she sent me home again with the home testing equipment to see how effective the appliance was.

The results of the follow up test showed that my apnea hypopnea index score, or AHI (the number of times an hour breathing is interrupted) was down to 3, meaning I only stopped breathing 3 times an hour.  Any AHI score below 5 is considered normal.

As for the volume issue of my snoring, before using the dental appliance my snoring averaged about 60 decibels, and at times was as high as 80 decibels.  My follow up home sleep test with the appliance showed that the loudest I snored was just below 40 decibels, which basically sounds like a heavy breathing.

Doctor Cairns says the improvements not only had benefits for my long term health, but also brought the volume of my snoring down improving the quality of my wife’s sleep.  “It’s just heavy breathing at the at the worst. That is something that can be tolerable to anybody, both the person sleeping and your bed partner. Technically snoring is disruptive to you while you are sleeping, even though you typically sleep through it.  I would say that you did a good thing for yourself and for your wife.”

If you think you may be struggling with any of the sleep issues we have discussed this week Dr. Cairns says there is a test online you can take.

“If you have any kind of curiosity at all, you could go online and find something called an Epworth sleepiness scale.” http://epworthsleepinessscale.com/about-the-ess/  

“The Epworth scale is something that's been proven to be highly predictive of sleep apnea.  If your results are anything above an 8, that is highly predictive of some kind of sleep disorder.”

To have any kind of sleep disorder diagnosed, the first step should be a visit to your primary care doctor.

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