Have you ever woken up unexpectedly in the middle of a peaceful sleep?
For those who suffer from sleep apnea, this is a common occurrence. Sleep apnea is a disorder that causes the sufferer to wake up multiple times throughout the night due to a blocked airway.
As you might imagine, this lack of quality sleep leads to problems that affect the sufferer in the daytime, their relationships, and even the way they look. Explore some of the ways sleep apnea impacts your appearance and what you can do to prevent it.
What Happens When You’re Not Getting Beauty Sleep?
Sleep apnea deprives people of their ability to sleep and the benefits that come from it as well. This means your cells don’t get rebuilt, your brain isn’t getting refreshed, and your skin becomes unhealthy.
A lot of healthy functions happen during sleep and many of them affect the way you look. When those functions aren’t happening, it can take a major toll on your overall appearance.
Skin Problems from Sleep Apnea
The term “beauty sleep” doesn’t get used by accident — sleep really does play a major role in helping us retain our attractiveness. One way this is evident is in our skin. Here’s why:
Cortisol, Your Sleep, and Your Skin
Without the sleep your body needs you begin to release cortisol, the stress hormone. In addition to regulating stress, cortisol also breaks down collagen, which is the protein that keeps skin tight and provides its elasticity. Without collagen, your skin begins to sag, making you look years older than your actual age.
Obesity and Sleep Apnea
While not every person who has sleep apnea is obese, the majority of them are and it’s arguably the most distinguishing physical trait of the disorder.
Obesity and Sleep Apnea – A Vicious Cycle
It’s interesting that obesity is both a cause and a result of sleep apnea. The excess fat and large neck associated with obesity tend to clog up the airway, resulting in an inability to breathe at night.
Traits of sleep apnea also lead to more severe obesity. The lack of sleep at night translates to less energy during the day, meaning a lower likelihood of meaningful exercise. Plus, the tired and moody feeling produced by sleep apnea encourages overeating in sufferers of sleep apnea.
How Sleep Apnea Affects Your Face and Head
Longtime sufferers of sleep apnea often have distinct characteristics they develop in their heads and faces. This includes a condition known as retrognathia in which a patient’s lower jaw is noticeably further behind their upper jaw.
A large neck is another common trait of sleep apnea. Note that whether a person was born with a heavy build or they gain weight suddenly doesn’t impact their chances of developing sleep apnea.
A Path to Overcoming Your Sleep Apnea
Since many of the symptoms of sleep apnea can be confused with other problems, it goes undiagnosed 80% of the time. This is unfortunate because untreated sleep apnea gets worse over time and can lead to life-threatening problems.
If you suspect that sleep apnea may be taking hold of your life, consider these common steps to solve the problem.
Schedule a Sleep Test
Even if you have every known symptom of sleep apnea, a sleep test is required before doctors will treat the disorder. This can typically be done overnight in a lab or in the comfort of your own home while wearing a chest monitor. If you suspect that your symptoms may be signs of sleep apnea, this will be your first step to alleviating the problem.
Make Improvements to Your Lifestyle
If you visit a place that specializes in treating sleep issues, like West Coast Snore & Sleep Apnea Solutions in California, you’ll learn that getting rid of your symptoms will involve significant changes on your end.
Since the majority of sleep apnea patients are overweight and that obesity is often the cause of the obstructed airway, Dr. Christopher Henninger recommends improving your fitness levels. In addition to getting more exercise, avoiding sugar will also be a major part of slimming down to get rid of your sleep apnea symptoms.
Treatments that Help You Sleep
After your sleep test, you’ll receive a diagnosis and can begin to seek treatment. These treatments are aimed at opening your airway and ensuring that you’re able to sleep through the night.
At his practice in Manhattan, NY, Dr. David Blaustein explains how the main treatments for sleep apnea are the Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) treatment and a variety of oral appliances.
It’s important to note that those treatments aren’t equal. So many patients have had problems with the CPAP treatment that currently, dentists like Dr. Vu Kong in Elgin, IL only provide oral appliances for treating the disorder.
Oral appliances are about the size of a retainer and provide a lot more comfort than a typical CPAP. Since they focus on the one problem that’s obstructing the patient’s airway, these oral appliances are highly effective at managing the symptoms of sleep apnea.
Sleep Apnea Can Take a Major Toll on Your Looks
It’s usually an unhappy partner and problems with performance during the day that leads sufferers to seek treatment for their sleep apnea. However, it’s also worth treating it because of the many ways it can ruin your appearance. If you suspect that you may have sleep apnea, treat it as soon as possible before your skin, hair, and the rest of your body pay the price.