The Not-So-Silent Killer: 5 Ways Sleep Apnea Can Affect Your Health and Your Love Life
Within the realm of sleep disorders lies a silent menace known as sleep apnea—a condition characterized by disrupted breathing patterns during sleep. Astonishingly, despite its widespread prevalence, only 6 million out of the estimated 30 million Americans afflicted with sleep apnea receive a formal diagnosis, as revealed by the American Medical Association. This alarming discrepancy emphasizes the grave consequences that arise when this disorder remains undiagnosed and untreated, compromising not only our physical well-being but also our most intimate relationships.
Why is sleep apnea considered the not-so-silent killer?
Ask any medical professional, and they’ll likely tell you that high blood pressure (HPB) is the silent killer. Nearly half of adults in the U.S. have HPB, and when left untreated, it can lead to a heart attack or stroke. However, many people don’t realize that sleep apnea, specifically obstructive sleep apnea, when left untreated, has a two to three times greater risk of causing a heart attack or stroke than HBP or elevated cholesterol. That’s a bit startling when you think of it, especially with so many undiagnosed people, and even more so because it all occurs when you sleep.
For the reasons stated above, sleep apnea is considered a not-so-silent killer. The truth is that this disorder is loud. According to the Mayo Clinic, the most common obstructive and central sleep apnea symptoms include loud snoring and gasping for air during sleep. And either of those scenarios likely means a poor night’s sleep for you and your sleep partner.
How does sleep apnea affect your health and love life?
Many people don’t make the correlation between sleep apnea and its effects on one’s overall health or love life, but there are indeed some parallels. Read on to understand the five ways that your untreated sleep apnea can be contributing to health and relationship issues.
Chronic snoring, a common symptom of sleep apnea, can disrupt both your sleep and your partner’s. This can lead to poor sleep quality, daytime fatigue, and increased health risks, such as cardiovascular problems. Additionally, the strain it places on your relationship due to the constant noise can create emotional distance and frustration. Don’t believe us? Consider that a study by Rush University evaluated sleepiness, quality of life, and marital satisfaction among wives whose husbands snored heavily, and found that couples who were living with snoring had a higher divorce rate.
2. Restless Sleep
Sleep apnea causes repeated pauses in breathing, leading to fragmented and restless sleep. The lack of restorative rest can result in daytime fatigue, difficulty concentrating, decreased productivity, and even accidents. Further, couples who sleep together are twice as likely to wake up the other during the night. That constant tossing and turning can disturb your partner’s sleep, affecting their well-being and fostering tension in your relationship and contributing to poor mood the following day.
3. Daytime Fatigue
The interrupted breathing episodes characteristic of sleep apnea prevent you from reaching deep, restful sleep stages, resulting in chronic daytime fatigue. This exhaustion and sleep deprivation can impair your ability to engage in daily activities, affect your work performance, and decrease your overall quality of life. It can also diminish your desire and energy for intimacy, negatively impacting your love life.
4. Decreased Desire for Intimacy
As if being tired isn’t enough to ward off any chances of intimacy with your partner, sleep apnea itself can decrease your libido and sexual desire due to fatigue, hormonal imbalances, and decreased oxygen levels. This can lead to a decline in intimacy and, in turn, a strain on your relationship. An article by marriage.com suggests that a lack of intimacy can contribute to low self-esteem, loneliness, a lack of emotional connection, increased stress, resentment, and more.
5. Irritability and Mood Swings
Sleep deprivation caused by sleep apnea can contribute to irritability, mood swings, and difficulty managing emotions. This emotional instability can strain your relationship, leading to arguments, misunderstandings, and a decreased sense of closeness. It becomes a vicious cycle as relationship stress can exacerbate sleep apnea symptoms, further compromising your overall well-being.
How can your dentist help you improve your love life?
When you think of problems in your intimate relationships, you probably don’t think of your dentist as the professional who can help. But trust us on this one. Though sleep apnea needs to be diagnosed by a doctor, your dentist can actually help you with treatment. And that treatment is about more than just helping you learn how to stop snoring.
Simply stated, dentists play a crucial role in the treatment of sleep apnea, offering effective solutions beyond the traditional Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) therapy. According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, dental interventions have been shown to significantly improve sleep apnea symptoms and patient outcomes.
By utilizing custom-made oral appliances, dentists can help reposition the jaw and open the airway, promoting proper airflow during sleep and reducing the frequency of breathing disruptions. This alternative approach to sleep apnea treatment offers patients a more comfortable and convenient option, improving compliance and overall quality of life.
Dr. Desai is trained to help you treat your sleep apnea.
While Dr. Desai is not a marriage counselor or therapist, she does have some training that sets her apart from other dentists. In fact, with her extensive accreditations and training, Dr. Desai stands out as the only female American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry-accredited doctor in Newport Beach.
These exceptional skills and certifications not only make her an expert in cosmetic dentistry but also position her as a trusted dentist capable of effectively treating sleep apnea. Dr. Desai’s comprehensive knowledge and expertise enable her to provide personalized and effective solutions for patients seeking relief from sleep apnea, ensuring their overall well-being and improved quality of life.
Request an appointment today and improve your relationship tomorrow.
Like we said, Dr. Desai and the team at Luminous Smiles are not therapists. However, we can help you identify sleep apnea symptoms and guide you with lifestyle changes that can aid in sleep apnea treatment. Whether we suggest a CPAP, nightguard, or other options, you can trust that you’ll be on your way to a better night’s sleep and an improved love life before you know it. Request an appointment today.