Relationship Problems

Sleep apnea: causes, treatments, and cures

header-images-relationshipsChronic crankiness and fatigue can kill any relationship. Sleep deprivation often leads to relationship problems. There is not much fun in being with someone with low energy and high irritability most of the time. If the grouchy couch potato snores a lot, obstructive sleep apnea may be the problem.

Obstructive sleep apnea is a disorder that interrupts breathing briefly but repeatedly, usually for at least ten seconds each time. Apnea produces impulses from the brain to awaken the sleeper just enough to restart respiration. The sleep disorder apnea is not rare. One in five adults has mild and one in 15 has moderate sleep apnea.

During sleep, excess tissue of large tonsils or a large tongue may obstruct the upper airway. Relaxation and collapse of muscles in the back of the throat also may fail to keep the airway open during sleep, compounding the problem. Sleep deprivation and disturbance from apnea impairs normal emotional function necessary for harmonious interpersonal relationships.

Incessant snoring strongly indicates sleep apnea and should be examined by a physician. Sleep apnea means depression, irritability, sexual impotence, memory problems, drowsiness during the day at work, behind the wheel of a car on the road, and at other, most inopportune times. Ultimately, the patient is much worse than irritable during the day. The patient becomes unfit for the give and take incidents inevitable in intimate relationships.

The problem is not beyond repair

Fortunately, a dentist in Beverly can treat this condition with effective oral inserts.  Dental appliances can reposition the lower jaw and tongue and surgery can remove excess airway tissue. Laser-assisted uvuloplasty reduces or removes the uvula and surrounding tissue to enlarge the airway behind the palate. An oral/maxillofacial surgeon can perform this outpatient procedure under local or general anesthesia and restore the patient’s vitality and equanimity.

For mild to moderate sleep apnea, oral appliance therapy is recommended by the American Sleep Apnea association as a first line treatment for obstructive sleep apnea.  The sleep dentist take impressions of the teeth to custom fit the oral appliance to the patient’s exact teeth and bite. The oral appliance is then made to these exact specifications at an FDA approved lab and sent back to the dentist. The appliance ensures that placement in the mouth  holds the lower jaw in place and moves the tongue forward by elevating the soft palate and keeping the tongue from falling back into the airway. Oral appliances are fine for patients who prefer them or who fail other treatment attempts. Patients using oral appliances should have regular office visits with their pulmonologists or sleep physicians to monitor treatment maintenance and symptomatology.

Lifestyle changes can mitigate sleep apnea symptoms


Overweight patients have cured sleep apnea by losing excess weight. The air-pressure mask only treats the condition; weight loss can cure it.

Alcohol should be avoided because it causes frequent nocturnal arousals and relaxes upper throat muscles. Cigarette smoking worsens upper airway tissue swelling, narrowing the airway and aggravating apnea and snoring. Ironically, sedatives prescribed for insomnia can relax throat muscles and worsen airway obstruction. Sleeping on the side rather than the back helps some patients with mild sleep apnea.

Regular, restful sleep that recharges and reinvigorates body and mind for the physical, mental, and emotional challenges of life is an absolute necessity for good health, which in turn is necessary for the life of good, healthy relationships. Relationships are living things that thrive in happy times and wither from abuse and neglect.

Anyone aware of frequent snoring, especially if made aware by complaints, and suffering from chronic fatigue and irritability that may be symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea sleep disorder should consult Dr Ben Polan without delay to discuss treatment.