The Importance of Sleep!

The Importance of Sleep!

I just read a great book on sleep! I have been involved in sleep medicine for a number of years. Why is a dentist involved in sleep medicine? I became interested in sleep medicine when one of my patients could not tolerate his CPAP machine. One of the things a dentist can do to help out is to make an oral appliance that helps open the airway (sort of like a mouthguard) by moving the jaw forward . (

As our research evolves, we are recognizing that wearing of our teeth may be sign that we have obstructive sleep apnea. It is our body’s way of trying to wake us so we can breath. In children we are becoming much more aware of the potential for sleep apnea in children. Sleep apnea can affect their performance in school and physical and mental development. In children, as dentists, we are starting to be aware of narrow mouth arches and closely look at the airway. The narrow airway can be widened orthodontically.

Typically, when we think of someone with sleep apnea we think of an overweight male that snores! Women who are not overweight can have sleep apnea and many times it is missed. There is also an association of depression and obstructive sleep apnea. When left untreated, obstructive sleep apnea can cause excessive daytime fatigue, morning headaches, and memory loss. In addition, studies suggest that untreated OSA increases the risk of numerous health issues, such as hypertension, congestive heart failure, atrial fibrillation, coronary artery disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.

All this leads me to a book I recently read on the importance of sleep even without obstructive sleep apnea called:

Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams by Mathew Walker PhD

Here is a short video of him speaking.

Putting this all together think SLEEP!

S = Sleepy Time. Try to have a regular bedtime and give yourself enough time to sleep 8-10 hours.

L = Light. Be sure to limit your exposure to bright light and screen time with computer screens about an hour or more before bed.

E = Exercise. Daily exercise!

E = Environment. Have a quiet and dark sleep environment

P = Priority. Make sleep a priority!

You will never sleep the same again! So get that sleep you can’t live without it!