Time magazine just published an article about frequent nightmares. While most of us have experienced occasional nightmares about 5% of adults have them frequently and those people have some things in common like PTSD or a sleep breathing disorder like sleep apnea.
According to the article 80% of patients with post-traumatic stress disorder and 75% of patients with sleep disordered breathing experience nightmares. It is not surprising that the Department of Defense has spent millions studying dreams hoping to find a way to help returning war vets.
Sleep apnea and other sleep breathing disorders are linked to nightmares as well but doctors are not sure why. Sleep apnea is a disorder which causes a sleeper to stop breathing during sleep, depriving the body of oxygen. One theory is that nightmares are the brain responding to the lack of oxygen caused by sleep apnea. Treat the apnea and the nightmares should vanish.
The most common treatment for obstructive sleep apnea is CPAP which Time describes as “A machine pushes air into the mouth and nose through a mask at night”. This is a pretty good description and it also illustrates why so many patients can’t tolerate sleeping with CPAP.
The article didn’t mention oral appliance therapy for obstructive sleep apnea. Oral appliances look like a mouthguard and are worn during sleep. These adjustable devices allow your sleep medicine dentist to “titrate” or adjust the appliance until you are breathing comfortably all night long. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine prefers that dentists who treat sleep apnea patients with oral appliances also have experience in the field of neuromuscular dentistry.
For more information about oral appliance therapy for obstructive sleep apnea please contact your Columbus, OH neuromuscular and sleep medicine dentist Dr. Mark Levy at 614-476-6696 today.