Patients often have questions for their dentists, but Dr. Jacques Doueck says that he often has questions for his patients. He explains in this report.
One question for patients with sleep problems is, “Do you find that you need to sleep with two or three pillows, or do you like to sleep in an upright position?” Not surprisingly, says Dr. Doueck, many patients reply that they prefer to sleep almost upright. This is often the result of a sleep apnea issue. When you fall asleep, your tongue falls to the back of your throat. “Gravity is working against us.” Your sleep position can have a big effect on your ability to breathe while sleeping.
If sleeping upright is the response to the question, Dr. Doueck strongly suggests that the person should get a diagnosis to see if sleep apnea is the problem. If so, it is a serious problem and needs to be treated. And even though someone sleeps sitting up, sleep apnea can still occur and adversely affect someone’s health.
Another question for patients is, “Do you stay on the go all day and then crash at night?” The reason for the question is that some people with sleep apnea cope with being tired by drinking lots of caffeine to keep them going. They are not getting the refreshing sleep they need, and their bodies are crying out for oxygen. Their bodies are not able to repair themselves at night. People in this situation who get treated for sleep apnea usually find that they feel better during the day and don’t have such a craving for caffeine.
Another question Dr. Doueck asks his patients is this: “Do you dream?” The reason this matters is that people with sleep apnea don’t dream. They are unable to reach the deep sleep and REM sleep they need because repeated blockages of their airways keep them at level two sleep. They are asleep, but they are not getting the refreshing sleep their bodies need. Some sleep apnea patients report that they dream, but their dreams are very frightening—dreams of drowning or choking. Someone with these dreams have severe sleep apnea. The answer: get a diagnosis and get treatment for sleep apnea.
Dr. Jacques Doueck, DDS, practices with Doueck Dental Sleep Medicine, Brooklyn, New York. Dr. Doueck is a diplomate, American Academy of Sleep Medicine. He holds membership in the Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine and the Academy of Minimally Invasive Biomimetic Dentistry. He hosts a 45 minute weekly radio show on various health topics. He is a clinical consultant for the Dental Advisor, a monthly journal that reviews current dental materials and techniques. Dr. Doueck writes a monthly article on state-of-the-art dentistry for “Image” and “Community” magazines. The Legal Broadcast Network is a featured network of the Sequence Media Group.