What is sleep apnea?

sleep-apnea-westminster-carroll-county-mdSleep apnea (AP-ne-ah) is a common disorder in which you have one or more pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while you sleep. These breathing pauses can last from a few seconds to minutes, and can occur as many as 30 times or more an hour. Sleep apnea is a chronic (ongoing) condition that disrupts your sleep.

When your breathing pauses, you awake very briefly to restart your breathing, sometimes with a loud snort or choking sound.  Because you are constantly waking up, you experience less restorative deep sleep, resulting in poor sleep quality that makes you tired during the day.

Sleep apnea is one of the leading causes of excessive daytime sleepiness.

Sleeping through sleep apnea

Sleep apnea often goes undiagnosed. Many people who have sleep apnea don’t know they have it because it only occurs during sleep. A family member and/or bed partner may first notice the signs of sleep apnea.

Here are some sleep apnea symptoms to look out for:


  • Snoring

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness

  • Loud, disruptive snoring

  • Irregular breathing during sleep (e.g. Gasping, Choking, Long pauses)

  • Restless Sleep

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Irritability

  • Morning Headaches

  • Dry Mouth and throat

  • TMJ Symptoms

The best way to diagnose the severity of your sleep apnea is with an overnight sleep study, which is either performed in a sleep clinic or at home. The study will measure how often your breathing is interrupted, the quality of sleep you get, the oxygen levels in your blood, your heart rate, and your body movements.

Get back to restful sleep

At home:

There are a few simple lifestyle changes you can make on your own that could help to treat your sleep apnea:

Shed some weight
Losing a few pound could help reduce the amount of airway blocking tissues you have in your neck and throat.

Set a healthy bedtime
Going to bed when you are overtired causes you to sleep very deeply.  In this state, your throat muscles become so relaxed they can collapse to the back of your throat and cut off your airway.

Change your sleeping position
You snore most when you sleep on your back. Try switching your habits and sleep on your side instead. side.

Quit bad habits
Stop smoking, get regular exercise and avoid alcohol, caffeine and big meals near bedtime.

With help from your Westminster dentist:

If you have moderate to severe sleep apnea, it’s likely you’ll need a bit more help to treat your sleep disorder. Here are a number of sleep apnea sleep apnea solutions Dr. Gary Imm of All Smiles Care can provide:

The SomnoDent MAS™ is an oral appliance, which fits over the upper and lower teeth, much like a sports mouthguard. However unlike a sports mouthguard it is a precision-made, clinically-tested medical device. It is highly effective (in most cases) in stopping snoring and treating obstructive sleep apnea in the mild to moderate range.

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machines push pressurized air via a tube and mask into your nose. The pressurized air acts like a door stopper to keep your airway open.

Surgical procedures are another sleep apnea treatment. Sometimes it’s necessary to  surgically remove the excess tissue in your throat. Your tonsils, adenoids (especially in children), uvula, or parts of your soft palate and throat are all things that could be causing your blocked airway. Removing them is often the best treatment.

Get effective treatment

Sleep apnea is cause for concern, but there are many effective treatments. If you have symptoms of sleep apnea, it’s better to check into them now rather than wait.  Dr. Imm can diagnose the cause of your sleep apnea causes, so that you can get the most effective sleep apnea treatment for you. Life with adequate, healthy sleep is a great way to live.

Go to bed… and wake up thinner?

Sounds like a dream, doesn’t it? Go to bed, have good sleep and wake up lighter than the night before. Just sleep and wake up thinner.

What if we told you there is some reality to this dream? Truth is, the key to weight loss can be as simple as getting enough sleep.

Studies show that people that lack proper shut eye, tend to weigh more than those who have regular, quality sleep. There is definitely a connection between good sleep and good health. People with sleep shortages have an altered level of a hormone that is known to control hunger. This causes an increase in your appetite and also an increase in your preference for high calorie foods.

You’re not hungry … you’re tired!

When your body is cheated out of sleep, there is an abundance of consequences. Not getting enough sleep affects your hormones, your appetite and your moodWhen you are tired, you are inclined to crave comfort foods and are more likely to indulge your craving for them. Rather than grabbing for the carrot sticks, you will chose candy, chocolate and chips.

Although, after eating these foods, you may feel like you got a temporary boost in your energy, you will find you are hungry more frequently. The real problem is your sleepiness not your hunger, so your tiredness will lead you to  frequently making poor foodchoices.

What’s more, when you are tired, you are less resistant to stress, which triggers emotional eating for a lot of people. People will use food to keep awake, failing to recognize, once again, that its sleep your body is craving, not food.

Weight Watchers or sleep apnea treatment? What’s your solution

What does all this mean? Simply stated lack of sleep increases your appetite and leads to weight gain. Anyone who encounters the late night munchies can testify to that. While there are many reasons why people are heavier than they want to be, if you suffer from sleep apnea seeking treatment may help you lose a few pounds and help you get back to healthy, restful sleep.

Because sleep apnea occurs during sleep, many people do not know that it’s sleep apnea that’s effective their poor food choices and fatigue. Here are a few common symptoms of sleep apnea:


  • Snoring

  • Daytime sleepiness

  • Restless sleep

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Irritability

  • Morning headaches

  • Dry Mouth and throat

Find treatment at your Westminster dentist

Sleep disorder treatment at your dentist? That’s right. Dentists specialize in how your teeth and jaws work. Because they are trained to help you find the best jaw position for optimal oral health, they’re often the best positioned to diagnose jaw related breathing disorders. Why not find out for yourself if sleep apnea treatment can help you?

If you suffer from a sleep apnea, you are more likely to suffer from depression

sleep apnea and depression blatimore westminsterLife isn’t always easy. All of us, at some time or another, have felt a little down in the dumps. Feelings of sadness, are normal but, when they become prolonged, they can be an indication of depression.

Sleep apnea alone, can’t cause depression. It can, however, play a significant role. Sleep apnea makes depression worse by upsetting your daily routine and obstructing your personal, professional and social life.

What are the symptoms of depression?

Depression intensifies your feelings of sadness,  lasts for continuing periods of time and prevents you from leading a normal life.

Here are some common signs of depression:


  • feelings of sadness, helplessness, or hopelessness

  • insomnia

  • thoughts of suicide

  • changes in appetite, weight loss or weight gain

  • difficulty concentrating

  • lack of energy

  • disinterest in things that you once enjoyed

Could sleep apnea be what’s getting you down?

slee p apnea and depression baltimore westminsterA recent study shows that people suffering from sleep problems more likely to develop depression at some point. The risk of depression is directly linked to the severity of the sleep apnea.

The shorter or poorer-quality of sleep you get at night is directly reflected in the seriousness of the symptoms. Another study implies people with depression are 5x times more likely to have a breathing-related sleep disorder than non-depressed people.

Luckily, if sleep apnea and sleep deprivation are at the root of your depression, there is treatment available to help you get back to good quality, restful sleep.

Need help?

Dr. Gary Imm of All Smiles Care in Westminster is trained to diagnose and treat sleep apnea. The effects of sleep deprivation can have a huge impact on your life. Depression, poor job performance, strained relationships, and safety risks are all problems associated with lack of sleep.  More and more we are hearing about how inadequate sleep affects your overall health. Find out if sleep apnea is robbing you of the rest you need to stay safe and healthy.

Enriching Relationships

You share a bed but don’t get a good night’s sleep

It’s a scene that plays out in bedrooms across the world. One bed partner is prone to snoring, while the other spends their entire night dealing with the snorer. They spend their night nudging and elbowing and grumbling their way through another sleepless night.

At some point, a trek to the couch or spare bedroom is made. Usually, the “snoring culprit” is completely unaware their spouse is annoyed, tired and discontent.

Snoring’s no joke

Snoring is often dismissed as a joke but, left untreated, it can lead to the breakdown of relationships. Partners can’t endure the interruption in sleep and ultimately they can’t cope with the ensuing emotional toll it takes on both of them.

Outside of your bedroom walls, other relationships are being impaired. Friends, co-workers and other family members can sense the changes in your personality. A simple conversation now results in your intolerance, irritation, and impatience with others. It’s not you talking – it’s the lack of sleep!

While losing sleep is unlikely to destroy an otherwise secure relationship, it can certainly intensify problems or disagreements, and lead to depression and dissatisfaction within relationships. Even interactions with your children can be negatively impacted.

Start smiling again

enriching relationships sleep apnea snoring baltimore westminsterUnbroken, restful sleep is one of the most critical aspects of maintaining your good health and well-being. The same can be said for being in a loving, long-term relationship.

Don’t let snoring or sleep apnea jeopardize your health or your relationship. There are many sleep apnea and snoring treatments available to help you get the healthy sleep you need to enrich your relationships.

Get back to sleep with the help of your dentist

A visit to Westminster’s All Smiles Care will put you in touch with Dr. Gary Imm. Certified in sleep apnea and snoring diagnosis and treatment he’ll get to the root of your snoring causes to find a sleep solution for you.

Safety risks increase when your sleep quality decreases

After a great family vacation, the Johnson’s were heading down the highway on the home stretch. The kids were all fast asleep in the back seat, worn out from their adventures.

Drew and Emma were chatting happily when, suddenly, a pick-up, heading down the opposite way zigzagged into the ditch and rolled a several times before coming to a stop. Shocked and upset by what they had just witnessed, the Johnsons pulled over to the side to re-group.

They scanned the paper the next morning to see if anything was reported. The lone occupant of the vehicle was pronounced dead at the scene. The paper reported sited the reason for the crash as: “the driver apparently fell asleep at the wheel”.

Don’t be the next statistic

sleep deprivation and safety baltimore westmionsterExhaustion and carelessness because of sleep loss, contributes to more disasters than we’re aware of. Here’s a startling statistic. More than 1/3 of people polled who said they had driven while sleepy, said they had fallen asleep at the wheel! While it’s a no-brainer that sleep deprivation can cause cranky moods, did you know sleep deprived individuals have the same reaction time as a drunk driver? A recent study shows that sleep deprived folks account for well over half of all accidents on the road.

Insufficient amounts of sleep affect your attentiveness and reaction time. Workplace related accidents place financial burdens on society, the health care system and obviously the individual. Almost 20% of all workplace-related injuries happen because of fatigue.

Some people may think driving while drowsy sounds harmless enough, or, going about your daily routine when you are sleep deprived doesn’t hurt anyone, but, the truth is, it’s dangerous. Sleepiness is a liability and it can impair your reaction time, your physical and mental capabilities and your ability to process information and make judgments.

Why are you always tired?

Sleep deprivation caused by sleep disorders like snoring or sleep apnea could be at the root of your daytime sleepiness.

It could be time to visit your Westminster dentist to find a treatment that can get you back to healthy sleep, and put you safely back in the drivers seat once again.