It’s a spooky time of year as you watch your favorite horror movies, check out haunted houses, and look for the scariest costumes. It’s normal to have a nightmare or two during the Halloween season. Although nightmares typically affect children, about 2-8% of adults experience them as well. If you tend to have bad dreams throughout the year, it might be caused by an underlying issue other than the movies you’re watching, like a sleep disorder. Believe it or not, nightmares and sleep apnea in Arlington Heights are linked to one another. Don’t worry, your dentist can help stop the terrors and open your airway, so you can get the rest you need.
How are Nightmares and Sleep Apnea Linked?
Sleep apnea is a disorder that causes a person to stop breathing several times throughout the night. The soft tissues in the back of the mouth collapse or the tongue falls back to cause an obstruction in the airway. This results in frequent interruptions in breathing, with each event lasting for potentially longer than 1 minute.
The improper oxygen levels strain various systems in your body, causing a variety of symptoms, like heart disease, morning time headaches, depression, and sleep deprivation. As unlikely as it might sound, nightmares can also be a sign of the sleep disorder.
Nightmares are disturbing dreams that are very realistic. They can make your heart race as you’re jolted awake by fear. Most nightmares occur during the REM (rapid eye movement) stage of sleep. Although they are often spontaneous, they can be caused by several underlying factors, like sleep deprivation.
Patients who have untreated sleep apnea often struggle with fatigue and feeling well-rested. Despite sleeping 7-8 hours each night, sleep deprivation is a common symptom of the condition. Research shows sleep deprivation can also contribute to adult nightmares. When you combine sleep apnea with bad dreams, it can be almost impossible to get the rest you need with the right treatment.
How is Sleep Apnea Treated?
You can sleep better and stop the nightmares with oral appliance therapy. As an alternative to a CPAP machine, many patients are choosing an oral appliance to treat their obstructive sleep apnea. The custom-fit device may look like an athletic mouthguard, but it serves another purpose. Depending on your treatment plan, it will move your mandibular forward or hold your tongue down to prevent the upper airway from being blocked. This stops the pauses in breathing, so you can sleep soundly without worrying about a scary dream.
Don’t let nightmares keep you awake at night. Contact your dentist to see if you’re a candidate for oral appliance therapy.
About Dr. Brian Zulawinski
Dr. Zulawinski is a graduate of the Indiana University School of Dentistry. Since then, he has completed hundreds of hours of continuing education to focus on sleep apnea. He believes oral appliances are effective for treating mild-to-moderate forms of the condition. He can help you breathe easier without a CPAP. Contact our office today to schedule your consultation for sleep apnea treatment.