Over the years we’ve worked with thousands of patients who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and have helped them find relief through the use of oral appliances. Once their OSA is under control, they can finally reclaim good sleep, perhaps for the first time in years. We see firsthand what a change this makes in their lives. Getting enough good quality sleep is necessary for the body and brain to function properly.
What Happens if You Don’t Sleep Enough
Sleep is so imperative to the body, it simply can’t function properly without it. If you don’t regularly get enough sleep, you may experience the following:
- Daytime sleepiness
- Brain fog
- Chronic pain
- Reduced immunity
- Nocturia (need to urinate frequently at night)
- Issues with cognitive development
Children need adequate sleep, too, and if they don’t get enough, they may experience bedwetting, ADHD-like symptoms, and behavioral problems at school. Snoring in children should prompt parents to ask their pediatrician to order a sleep study.
What Happens During Sleep
The body uses sleep as a chance to recuperate, carrying out functions that don’t occur during the day, or can’t occur with the same efficiency.
Cells that have been damaged during waking hours are repaired. Hormones released during sleep are responsible for slowing down breathing, relaxing muscles, and lowering blood pressure and heart rate. Taken together, these reduce stress and inflammation in the body, allowing the body to heal and re–energize.
Sleep is also necessary for the brain to correctly integrate information and remove waste products. That’s why chronic sleep loss is associated with problems relating to learning, memory, and concentration.
Getting Better Quality Sleep
If you have problems sleeping, start by improving your sleep environment through good sleep hygiene. That means making sure you’re sleeping in a room that’s dark, quiet, comfortable, and free from disruptions like pets. Avoid caffeine and alcohol for several hours before bedtime. Limit time spent in front of a computer, phone, and TV screens as the light emitted from these devices will inhibit your ability to fall asleep.Go to bed at the same time every night. Try taking a bath before bedtime and writing down anything that’s on your mind, so you can go to bed with a clear mind.
All this still may not be enough to ensure a good night’s sleep. If you have good sleep hygiene but still suffer from the symptoms experienced above, you may ask your doctor for a sleep test to diagnose a sleep disorder like sleep apnea. Once you have a diagnosis, you can work to treat it.
Good sleep is within reach of all of us. Make it a priority for you and your whole family, and you’ll improve your long-term health and your quality of life.