If you were gifted an extra hour a day, how would you use it? Catching up on work? Hitting the gym? Spending time with family?

Sleeping GirlAccording to the Better Sleep Council, just 26 percent of Americans would choose to sleep if given that extra hour per day. That statistic is somewhat surprising, considering about half of all Americans feel they don’t get enough sleep, and nearly 8 in 10 would feel more prepared for their day if they got an extra hour of sleep.

The Center for Disease Control has declared insufficient sleep a public health epidemic in America. We’ve all heard that adults need 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night, but we also know that nearly a third of adults get less than 6 hours a night.

While it may seem novel, dentists like our team at Caffaratti Dental Group can actually be trained sleep disorder specialists. We believe in helping our patients’ achieve optimal overall health, and we know that good sleep health is a key element in that equation.

What does poor sleep mean for your health?

Sleep can be a barometer of your overall health. In many cases, people in good health tend to sleep well. Even minimal sleep loss can take a toll on your mood, energy, efficiency and ability to handle stress.

Almost 80 percent of Americans agree that a lack of sleep causes problems like difficulty concentrating and increased stress. But did you know that lack of sleep, or poor sleep health, contributes to serious, even fatal, medical issues like memory loss, obesity, heart disease, stroke and diabetes?

Considering these adverse health effects, it is not surprising that poor sleep health is associated with lower life expectancy. In fact, sleeping five hours or less per night can increase mortality risk by 15 percent.

If you think you are immune, think again. An estimated 50 to 70 million US adults suffer from some type of sleep disorder. If on a regular basis you feel irritable or sleepy during the day, have trouble concentrating, need caffeine to keep you going, have trouble staying awake when watching TV or reading, or have difficulty controlling your emotions, you may have a sleep disorder.

What are sleep disorders?

Sleep disorders cause more than just sleepiness. When a lack of quality sleep becomes a regular occurrence, it can lead to poor health, accidents, impaired job performance and relationship stress.

The most common type of sleep disorder is insomnia, which occasionally affects nearly 50 percent of Americans and is characterized by difficulty falling asleep at night or getting back to sleep after waking during the night. The good news is that most cases of insomnia can be cured with simple lifestyle changes.

Snoring can indicate poor heart health

Young man can't sleep because of girlfriend's snoringMore than just an annoyance to a sleeping partner, snoring can be a serious sleep disorder symptom and even take a disastrous toll on general health and wellness. Research conducted at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit finds that snoring is a bigger risk factor for stroke and heart attack than smoking, being overweight or high cholesterol. Snoring can actually reveal damage to the arteries that supply oxygen-rich blood to the brain.

Because there is growing research suggesting that isolated snoring may not be as benign as first suspected, patients should treat snoring as a reason to visit the doctor to discuss cardiovascular health and stroke prevention.

Obstructive sleep apnea makes you at 25 percent higher risk for heart attack

Obstructive sleep apnea, which often develops from snoring, has long been known as an indicator of heart disease. One in five adults suffers from at least mild sleep apnea, and it affects more men than women. More severe than snoring alone, sleep apnea causes a pause in breath or shallow breathing during sleep. An individual with sleep apnea may experience pauses in breathing five to 30 times an hour, or even more, during sleep. If left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, arrhythmia, heart failure and stroke.

How can my dentist help me sleep better?

Trained sleep disorder dentists, like the team at Caffaratti Dental Group, can diagnose and help treat sleep disorder, particularly Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Instead of going to a sleep center for an evaluation, our patients can opt for our take-home sleep test device. This device carefully detects information like blood oxygen saturation, snoring levels and airflow. Being worn in the patient’s normal environment coupled with its small size allowing patients to sleep in any position means it provides a better overall profile of the patient’s typical sleep patterns and sleep health.

Our team can also evaluate a traditional sleep study. With your general physician, we will help you understand the results, provide a diagnosis and determine the best solutions for you to get better quality sleep and improve your sleep health.

While CPAP machines or surgery are sometimes the recommended treatment, snoring and sleep apnea can often be treated with oral appliance therapy. These oral appliances remodel the upper airway and permanently move the lower jaw forward into a more natural position, increasing the size of the airway and dramatically improving the patient’s ability to breathe. Without surgery or cumbersome CPAP machines, oral appliance therapy address the underlying cause of sleep apnea and successfully reduce the likelihood of related complications like heart disease, depression, stroke and obesity.

Start the journey to better sleep – and better health

If you have tracked your symptoms and sleep patterns and tried to improve your sleep health habits on your own to no avail, Caffaratti Dental Group wants to help you get on the road to better sleep. Call today at (775) 358-1555 or click here to schedule a FREE consultation to discuss how we can improve your sleep health and your overall health.