It’s World Sleep Day – Gasping for Air is Potentially Dangerous

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In honor of World Sleep Day, focus on getting a good night's sleep. Dr. Elliott Alpher warns that snoring, waking up tired, or in pain, may be a sign of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)

Friday, March 17 is the 10th Annual World Sleep Day, as proclaimed by the World Sleep Society. It's time to focus on getting as much quality sleep as we need to properly function. Many sacrifice sleep, whether that means burning the midnight oil on the job or struggling to quiet the mind, research shows that most people are sleeping an average of seven hours a night. That’s a full 90 minutes less than we did just a century ago. The result is a running sleep deficit – one that costs businesses world-wide more than four billion dollars according to a recent study and threatens overall health in ways that sometimes people do not connect.

Pioneering sleep expert Dr. Elliott J. Alpher, who treats sleep disorders, jaw and face pain in his Washington, D.C. practice, and consults with organizations such as the U.S. State Department and the NFL Players Association, says often the problem is an undiagnosed sleep disorder called Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). According to the Sleep Apnea Association, an estimated 80 percent of the 22 million Americans who suffer from sleep apnea go untreated.

“OSA leaves the person literally gasping for air,” Dr. Alpher says. “Every part of the body suffers because oxygen does not get to the vital organs and they are jeopardized. Further, the person with OSA wakes up as many as 300 times a night, struggling to breathe.”

For more than 25 years, Dr. Alpher has been a leader in the treatment of sleep disorders and jaw pain. He is on staff at both George Washington University and Georgetown University hospitals, a contributor to The Huffington Post for Health and Wellness, and a writer for Arianna Huffington’s Thrive Global, changing the way we work and live.

He cautions that snoring, which many may consider just an annoyance, is the body’s signal that something is wrong with their breathing.

“Every part of the body is compromised. In fact, obstructive sleep apnea is a killer,” Dr. Alpher says. “High blood pressure, weight gain, Type 2 diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, depression, memory problems, impaired brain activity, moodiness, anxiety, and ADHD in children all have been linked to OSA.”

Dr. Alpher says the first step is to get tested by a qualified sleep disorder expert. This can be accomplished through a home testing kit or undergoing a sleep study at a hospital or sleep lab. Dr. Alpher says home testing is growing in popularity and very effective.

Treatment for severe obstructive sleep apnea may require surgery or the use of a nasal continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). However, for mild to moderate OSA and craniofacial pain, Dr. Alpher pioneered a conservative, non-invasive approach using computerized and verifiable diagnostic methods. The patient wears a custom oral appliance that opens the airways, allowing the person to breathe and sleep without interruption. In addition, this method is the first choice for many physicians and most patients. So, on World Sleep Day 2017, make a resolution to getting a good night's sleep to achieve a happy, healthy life.

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Lily Mai
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