By Larry Pribyl, DDS
Recent studies suggest that our lack of adequate and quality sleep may be responsible for several unwanted symptoms in our lives. We all know lack of sleep can make us grouchy and forgetful. But did you know that long term sleep deprivation can increase levels of C-reactive protein—a marker of inflammation?
Chronic inflammation can lead to disorders such as high blood pressure, heart or vascular disease, decreased pain tolerance and other autoimmune diseases as well as contributes to obesity. When we are sleep deprived, our appetite increases due to a decreased production of leptin—a hormone that signals satiety to the brain. This also causes an increase in ghrelin—a peptide secreted by the stomach, which stimulates appetite.
Lack of sleep may be caused by Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). In OSA, the muscles in the throat relax too much and the airway narrows or closes. People who snore loudly and who sometimes stop breathing or gasp during sleep may need to be tested for sleep apnea. The most common treatment for moderate to severe sleep apnea is a positive airway pressure (PAP) machine. Types of PAP machines include the CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) which delivers a constant flow of air, and the BiPAP (bilevel positive airway pressure), which allows for different inhalation and exhalation air pressures. Another treatment option quickly gaining popularity is the use of mandibular advancement devices—also called oral sleep appliances.
Benefits of an Oral Sleep Appliance
Oral sleep appliances are custom made for the individual using dental impressions. This device is worn nightly and can greatly decrease apneic events and annoying snoring sounds. An oral sleep appliance is an option for those individuals who cannot tolerate the BiPAP or CPAP machine. For frequent travelers, it’s a welcome relief from excess baggage and needs no electricity! Oral sleep appliances can be adjusted to obtain optimal results and require far less maintenance than PAP machines with no need to order replacement parts.
Take The Epworth Sleepiness Test
The Epworth Sleepiness Test is one method you can use to test your lack of restful sleep. Use the following scale to choose the most likely number in each situation:
• 0 – Would never doze off or fall asleep in this situation
• 1 – Slight chance of dozing in this situation
• 2 – Moderate chance of dozing in this situation
• 3 – High chance of dozing or falling asleep in this situation
Score your answers to these questions using the scale above.
1. Sitting and reading _______
2. Watching television _______
3. Sitting, inactive in a public place (theater, meeting, etc.) ______
4. As a passenger in a car for an hour without a break _______
5. Lying down in the afternoon when circumstances permit _____
6. Sitting and talking to someone ______
7. Sitting quietly after lunch without alcohol _____
8. In a car, while stopped for a few minutes in traffic ______
Total score: _______
If your total score is 1-6, chances of Obstructive Sleep Apnea is less likely.
If your total score is 7-8, you are average.
If your score is 9 or higher, Obstructive Sleep Apnea is more likely.
Your primary care physician can refer you for a sleep study. If you have already been diagnosed with sleep apnea and are currently not treating it, call our office at 816-795-1000 for a consultation. An oral sleep appliance may be exactly what you need to get back the restful sleep you deserve.
Dr. Larry Pribyl has achieved Diplomate status with the American Board of Craniofacial Dental Sleep Medicine and the American Academy of Clinical Sleep Disorders Disciplines.
Larry Pribyl, DDS, has been in private practice over thirty five years. He has his Master of Excellence: American Academy of Craniofacial Pain, he is a Diplomate: American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine, and a Diplomate: Academy of Clinical Sleep Disorders Disciplines. He specializes in treating head, neck, and facial pain as well as dental sleep medicine. His training comes from experts in these fields where he has acquired hundreds of continuing education hours in post graduate studies.