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Mark Burhenne


Suffering From Anxiety? Why Sleep Apnea Might Be the Culprit

Posted: 01/28/2013 5:16 pm

Most people carry a lot of stress on their shoulders. A common trend I see amongst my stressed-out patients is anxiety. They're worried and anxious about a lot of things -- but the stress is always a constant, everyday factor.

If you ever feel sleepy at any point during the day, it's absolutely imperative you get tested and treated for sleep apnea. Many people think that feeling tired during the day is normal -- it's not. The nature of sleep apnea is that you can be fit, thin and healthy and still have sleep apnea.

The way sleep apnea works is this -- our airways collapse at night because of the heaviness of the jaw. When the airway collapses, breathing becomes compromised, so the brain has to get out of the deeper stages of sleep so it can open the airway and keep you alive and breathing. Adrenal glands are firing and you're grinding and clenching your jaw in an attempt to re-open the airway and this happens several times every hour!

The worst part in all this isn't that you're missing out on restorative sleep that slows the aging process and improves cognitive function -- the worst part is that you're waking up from an entire night of feeling panicked and breathless.

Imagine how that impacts you during your waking hours. For people already under tons of stress, this just compounds the stress you face during the day. For many people, a huge source of their anxiety during the day is actually from a feeling of breathlessness they experience at night. If you suffer from sleep apnea, you're panicked all night long as you gasp for air -- unconscious and unaware the entire time, but still paying the emotional price in the form of anxiety during the day.

Why not get ahead of the stress of the day by waking up feeling positive and optimistic so you can handle the challenges of the day? My recommendation to people who are feeling symptoms of anxiety and/or aren't happy with the sleep they're getting is that they see their dentist to have a mandibular advancement device made and an MD sleep specialist to discuss treatment.

It's the quality of the sleep that's important, but also eliminating that fight-or-flight response at night, to improve anxiety and stress during waking hours.

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ALSO: Here are author Michelle Cederberg's 10 ways to get the best sleep:

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  • Keep Up With Your Commitments

    Just like any relationship, sleeping better also requires you not to cheat -- your schedule, that is. Try to sleep around the same time each day to fall into a daily routine.

  • Get 7 To 8 Hours Of Sleep

    They say you need seven to eight hours of sleep every day -- Cederberg says 'they' are right. She says most adults function the best with at least seven to nine hours of sleep per night.

  • Turn Off The Lights

    To ensure a good night's sleep, make sure your room is dark. Close the curtains, turn off your lamp and the television. Cederberg says the smallest amount of light could affect your sleep -- use an eye mask if you need to.

  • Test Your Pillows -- Really

    Cederberg suggests spending a day testing out different types of pillows, like feather or foam ones, to see which one is the best fit for you. You should never test a pillow if you're tired though -- you may just like everything in the store.

  • Stay Fit

    Exercising isn't only good for your health, it can give you energy throughout the day. Challenging your body will also help you rest better, Ceberberg says.

  • Keep Your Bedroom Clean

    Make sure your room is tidy before you sleep. Switch up your linens once every two weeks, keep your room dust free and Cederberg recommends adjusting the temperature to 18 degrees Celsius for the best zZZ environment.

  • Block Out Noise

    If you live in the city, the sounds of cars and buses may be your morning wake up call (or the annoyances keeping you up at night). Cederberg suggests using ear plugs to block out unwanted noise.

  • Put Your Phone Away

    Another distraction before sleeping is playing with your phone or answering texts. Put your phone in another room to help fall asleep with a clear mind and not worry about a meeting the next day.

  • Say No To Heavy Meals

    Midnight snack cravings? Try to say no. Eating heavy foods right before bed will make it harder for your body to digest and make you tired the next morning.

  • Find A Good Mattress

    Even though pillows ensure a good night's rest -- a good mattress is just as important.


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