how sleep impacts your immunity

Your oral and overall health are connected. If there is an issue or concern in your mouth, it can affect the rest of your body. Sleep apnea is one of those conditions. When the tissues of the throat affect your breathing and sleeping patterns, your brain and body are impacted. 

Not getting adequate oxygen through the body with proper breathing does more than just affect your energy level or mood. It also affects your immunity. When faced with Covid-19 and other potential illnesses, getting adequate sleep and boosting your immune system is more important now than ever.

What Is Sleep Apnea or Disordered Sleep?

Sleep apnea, sleeping disorders, and snoring all keep you, and potentially your partner or family members, from getting a full night’s sleep. Among others, sleep disorders may include sleep apnea, insomnia, and parasomnia.

Sleep Apnea Defined

Sleep apnea is a medical condition in which the upper airway becomes blocked briefly, but repeatedly, during sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, 5-20 percent of adults suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Although there are different types of sleep apnea, OSA is the most common. Patients with this condition develop a blockage from the soft tissue collapsing in the airway during sleep.

When the airway becomes blocked, it causes pauses or blocks in breathing. These pauses may last ten seconds or more and may occur multiple times per hour. Although sleep apnea is more common in adults, children can be affected as well.

Effects of Sleep Apnea and Poor Sleep

When the airway is blocked and causes pauses in breathing, the patient experiences a repeated drop in his/her blood oxygen level. This affects the body and the brain. If sleep apnea goes untreated, it increases the risks of health issues such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease. 

Common symptoms of sleep apnea include:

  • Loud snoring
  • Problems concentrating
  • Memory problems
  • Headaches
  • Daytime tiredness
  • Dry mouth
  • Moodiness or depression

Children and Poor Sleep

Not only do adults snore or suffer from sleep conditions, but children are also susceptible. Sleep is crucial for young children’s developing brains and bodies. For kids, poor sleep can cause irritability, stress, and problems with learning and concentration.

Children with untreated sleep apnea may suffer problems such as delayed growth, memory loss, facial deformities, and personality changes. Additionally, according to the CDC, children who do not get enough sleep are at risk for obesity, diabetes, mental health problems, and injuries.

Getting Adequate Rest

We have all heard about the importance of getting a good night’s sleep. You know it helps you feel rested and more energetic. However, the amount of and the quality of your sleep impacts more than just your energy level and happiness. Sleep affects your entire body.

The Importance of Good Sleep

The quality of your sleep impacts your general well-being. Think about it. When you get a good night’s sleep, you wake up feeling refreshed and ready to face the day. You are in a good mood. You function well at work or at school.

On the other hand, just a single night of poor sleep leaves you feeling tired, grumpy, and moody. You may doze off or have trouble concentrating. Constantly getting inadequate sleep adds up. Not only are your mood, energy, and effectiveness impacted, but over time, it takes a toll on your health.

How Sleep Affects the Body

Sleep affects your overall health and well-being. Prolonged sleep deficiencies can lead to or increase the risk of chronic inflammation and conditions such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s.

Sleep and Immunity

Sleep and immunity are linked. When the immune system is activated, it alters sleep. Sleep, in turn, affects our body’s defense system. For example, when we are sick, our bodies crave rest. At that time, we are often told that sleep is the best medicine. It gives the body time to recover and fight the infection.

Prolonged lack of sleep weakens the defense system and makes us more susceptible to catching illnesses. A lack of sleep can also affect how quickly you can fight off the infection.

During sleep, your body releases proteins called cytokines. Certain cytokines need to increase when your body is fighting an infection or illness. A lack of quality sleep decreases these protective cytokines and lowers your immune system’s response. Adequate sleep keeps your body in better shape so your immune system is ready to defend your body against infections.

Sleep Soundly with LandMark Dentistry

At LandMark Dentistry, we understand the importance of quality sleep. Sleep apnea puts patients at risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and more. Your well-being is important to us!

How LandMark Dentistry Can Help

If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, treatment is necessary to achieve better quality sleep. For patients with mild to moderate OSA, dental devices similar to a mouthguard may be recommended. 

These appliances help to either push the lower jaw forward or push the tongue down so the airway remains open during sleep. This allows patients to breathe more freely without the constant starts, stops, and snoring.

Sleep is crucial for your overall health and immunity. Let us help you get a better night’s sleep and take control of your health. To learn more about our sleep apnea treatments, contact LandMark Dentistry at one of our locations in Charlotte or Matthews.