You wake up suddenly at 2:30 in the morning. Your chest is sore and you roll over, hoping to get back to sleep and trying your best to not wake up your spouse.

A few hours later, you are driving the Washington, D.C. beltway, coffee in hand, and you can barely stay awake. Once you get to work, you’re lethargic all day, feeling like you need to nap. You covertly grab a nap at lunch, skipping time with your co-workers. After the brief nap and quick lunch, you are still tired and having difficulty concentrating, even on the menial work tasks.

As you walk like a zombie through the day, all you can think about is getting in bed that night as the same cycle starts all over again. It’s a cycle that becomes routine and may possibly be detrimental to your health.

If this is you, you may have a sleep disorder. These are the commonly known sleep disorders:

Bruxism: According to www.MayoClinic.org,“Bruxism is a condition in which you grind, gnash or clench your teeth. If you have bruxism, you may unconsciously clench your teeth when you’re awake (awake bruxism) or clench or grind them during sleep (sleep bruxism).” It is considered a “sleep-related movement disorder” meaning people who grind their teeth at night could possibly also snore and have sleep apnea. Bruxism may eventually cause jaw disorders, damaged teeth, and major headaches. You may have bruxism if you have these symptoms: Teeth grinding so loud it may wake your spouse, flattened, fractured, chipped or loose teeth, constant sleep disruption, teeth enamel that is worn, a recurring, dull headache in your temples and damage on your inside cheek from grinding

Snoring: Is basically noisy breathing during sleep. More than ninety million Americans suffer from this sleeping disorder. Snoring occurs when the muscles of your throat relax, the tongue falls back, and while breathing, your throat walls vibrate. This leads to snoring. If you have a narrow airway, the snoring sound is much louder. It may not be that serious unless is leads to sleep apnea, which is a serious condition requiring medical attention.

Sleep Apnea: Breathing is interrupted briefly but repeatedly during sleep. The breathing stoppage may last as long as ten seconds or more. This is caused by throat muscles in the back that don’t keep the airway open. Sleep apnea sufferers are always sleepy during the work day and may not be able to concentrate, learn, or remember, may experience sexual dysfunction issues, and may even fall asleep on the phone, computer or while driving. Untreated sleep apnea may lead to stroke, heart attack, depression, or congestive heart failure. In other words, this is a serious condition that can be fatal. It must be treated.

So, you may be wondering,  how is sleep connected to your oral health?  There is a lot of information regarding sleep and oral health. Many sleep solutions are derived from dental health professionals. National Sleep Month raises awareness about these sleep issues. Look out for our future blog that will identify solutions (sleep appliances, innovation solutions) to sleep issues.

For example, Dr. Cooper can show you the signs of night time grinding of your teeth and determine the extent of it. If you have bruxism, a nightguard can be fitted to your teeth.  This removable acrylic appliance is placed in your mouth before bed and worn during sleep. It will act as a mechanical barrier preventing additional wear on the teeth.

To find out if you are experiencing bruxism, contact Dr. Cooper & Associates to schedule an appointment with Ron Cooper, DDS at (202) 463-2090 or email us at info@roncooperdds.com.