I’m talking about sleep. After finishing a mini-residency in Dental Sleep Medicine at Tufts nearly 5 years ago, I have continued to monitor the latest developments in the field. I have a new appreciation of how important sleep is to overall health and wellbeing.
Guest Post by Dr. Michael J. Goldberg
Contrary to what seems to be common wisdom, people who sleep 6.5-7.5 hours night live longer than those who sleep 8 or more.
While sleep apnea gets most of the attention, something recently happened to me that prompted me to dig even deeper into the subject.
I do NOT have sleep apnea. I tested myself with a home sleep study, something you can easily complete through our office. So, if I don’t have sleep apnea, why was I waking up tired and getting tired in the early evening? No, it’s not age, thank you.
While I did not have a sleep or disordered breathing issue (I can breathe through my nose and I do Buteyko breathing exercises), I do suffer from sleep bruxism. That means that I clench my jaw muscles during the night. And, you should know, that I have been wearing a retainer since my Invisalign treatment.
About 6 weeks ago while at a conference in Las Vegas where I delivered a lecture, I met a dentist who had invented a system to improve sleep. This system called “RiPPLE” supposedly tackles several issues at once. Because it can reposition the jaw forward, it can open up the airway and help resolve airway obstructed breathing one of the chief causes of sleep apnea. But, unlike most other sleep appliances, it discourages clenching by decreasing jaw muscle activity. And, it also prevents teeth from shifting, something that often happens with wear and age.
Six weeks ago, Dr. Magness made a RiPPLE appliance for me. Since wearing it, I am more energetic upon waking and have more energy throughout the day. But why?
Apparently, the increased muscle activity from clenching and grinding during sleep kept me from getting truly deep stages 3, 4 or R.E.M. sleep. These are the portions of one’s sleep that really refreshes.
I must be sleeping better because I’m not waking up in the middle of the night for a bathroom run. Apparently, such mid-sleep runs are as much about the depth of sleep as they are about the size of one’s bladder or prostate.
People who have sleep apnea suffer from “sleep fragmentation,” constantly waking up and failing to have sustained deep sleep. And, sleep fragmentation itself can lead to:
- Decreased kidney function
- Memory issues
- Decreased Immune System function
- Decreased metabolism
- Insulin resistance
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Accelerated tumor growth
In the past, researchers have linked sleep-disordered breathing and sleep fragmentation as a CAUSE of nighttime clenching and grinding termed “sleep bruxism.” Maybe, this is a “chicken and the egg” question. Which came first?
Could it be that muscle hyperactivity from clenching and grinding causes sleep fragmentation?
Based on my personal experience, that might indeed be the case. And, it explains why the RiPPLE appliance has been so effective for me. I’ll be lecturing about my experience and this theory at a sleep conference next week.
I’m always learning and always looking to improve how I care for you.
To everyone’s excellent health, wellness and sleep,
Find Dr. Goldberg at Manhattan Dental Health