Sleep: Why It’s Something to Celebrate

3 months ago

Healthy Smiles By Rita Tempel, DDSThis article was published in the Gettysburg Times, March 18, 2021.

What does sleeping have to do with celebrating?

No longer a sleepy topic, we are learning more and more about the vital connection between our sleeping habits and our overall health and wellness. That’s why this week, March 14-20, is Sleep Awareness Week. And it’s a month-long “celebration:” March is Sleep Awareness Month.

First, let’s define a “healthy” range of sleep: The CDC’s recommendation for adults is seven to nine hours of sleep per night. One of the key health benefits of regular, restful sleep? Healthy sleep habits have been proven to support and boost the body’s immune system.   

You might be wondering why, as a dentist, I am focusing on sleep health. Dental sleep medicine is a growing segment of dentistry that focuses on managing snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). As a Diplomate of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine, I feel dedicated to making a difference in the escalating number of people who suffer from snoring and OSA. This has become a passion of mine—and I have witnessed the transformation of patients’ lives!

Do you suffer from chronic snoring? Although your partner or family members may consider it annoying, snoring may be an indicator of a more serious underlying health condition, OSA.

Nearly 54 million American adults have OSA, which can cause them to stop breathing hundreds of times a night. This can happen for a few seconds at a time, to more than a minute. 

Sleep-related breathing disorders such as snoring or OSA prevent your body from getting a restful night’s sleep. Patients with OSA receive poor, interrupted, unhealthy sleep which can cause weight gain, nocturia (frequent urination during night), anxiety, and depression, and this can in turn contribute to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, hypertension, and Alzheimer’s Disease. In fact, there is growing research about the connection between OSA and Alzheimer’s.

The first step in receiving treatment for OSA is a diagnosis by a board-certified sleep physician.

Now let’s focus on the good news: In most cases of OSA, surgical intervention is not necessary. Many patients rely on a nasal mask and machine that pushes air through the nasal passages to keep the airway open. However, this device often further disrupts sleep, and some patients find them uncomfortable. But there is another option!

Oral appliance therapy—when a patient wears a custom-fit oral appliance—holds the patient’s lower jaw forward to keep the airway open during sleep. This is an effective alternative to the standard continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine and mask.

I encourage everyone to celebrate Sleep Awareness Month by establishing healthy sleep habits and contacting their doctors with concerns regarding sleep or snoring habits. Restful sleep is a vital piece of overall health and wellness! That is why this area of my practice is under the business name “Sweet Dreams Gettysburg.”

Dr. Rita Tempel is an Accredited Member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry and owner of Gettysburg Smiles Cosmetic & Family Dentistry as well as a Diplomate of the American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine and owner of Sweet Dreams Gettysburg, 2018 York Road, Gettysburg. For more information, see GettysburgSmiles.com, follow @ritatempeldds on Instagram, or like her Facebook page @Gettysburgsmiles or call 717-339-0033.

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