tired young adult woman rubbing her headDo you always feel tired during the day? If so, the odds are good that you have sleep apnea. Are you surprised? Don’t be. Over 80% of those with sleep apnea are undiagnosed. However, once you start to suspect that you might have sleep apnea, it’s important to get it diagnosed and treated because sleep apnea is a potentially life-threatening condition.

At the Advanced Dental Sleep Treatment Center in Omaha, we’ll help you understand how your sleepiness is linked to sleep apnea and why it’s important to get your apnea treated.

What Is Excessive Daytime Sleepiness?

Many people dismiss their daytime sleepiness because everyone they know is tired a lot of the time. While it’s true that modern life leads a lot of people to feel tired a lot of the time, that doesn’t diminish the fact that people with sleep apnea tend to experience excessive daytime sleepiness, also called hypersomnia. So how do you tell the difference between normal daytime sleepiness and hypersomnia?

There isn’t a hard and fast rule about what constitutes hypersomnia. However, you might have hypersomnia if you:

  • Have trouble waking up in the morning
  • Wake to feel unrested, despite sleeping more than 8 hours a day
  • Often feel sleepy during the day
  • Doze off at work, while driving, while reading, or while watching TV
  • Take naps, but they don’t help you feel awake
  • Have difficulty thinking or remembering
  • Experience anxiety and irritability
  • Lose your appetite
  • Hallucinate

Not all people experience all these symptoms. However, the severity of hypersomnia tends to increase over time, leading to worse symptoms the longer you go without discovering and treating the cause of your hypersomnia.

When to See a Doctor about Daytime Sleepiness

We understand that seeing a doctor about daytime sleepiness seems an extreme step for most people. However, it is often justified. We recommend seeing a doctor about your daytime sleepiness if you:

  • Doze off or are at risk of dozing off while driving or working with dangerous machinery
  • Fall asleep uncontrollably or lose muscle control during the day
  • Have symptoms of sleep apnea
  • Try home care, but it doesn’t help

If you doze off while driving or working with machinery, it’s important to figure out the cause of your sleepiness as soon as possible. Otherwise, you pose an immediate risk to yourself and others. The same is true for people who fall asleep uncontrollably during the day. If you have multiple symptoms of sleep apnea, it’s important to get it treated sooner rather than later. The longer you delay treatment, the more serious your risks are.

Finally, it’s time to see a doctor if you try home care for hypersomnia but don’t see improvement.

Home Care for Hypersomnia

If you suspect that your daytime tiredness is hypersomnia, but you don’t currently think you or others are at risk from it, you can try caring for it at home by trying to improve the quality of your sleep. Here are some tips that might help you get better quality sleep:

  • Establish a regular bedtime and wake-up time, even on the weekends
  • Create a relaxing bedtime routine
  • Keep distractions out of bed
  • Set consistent mealtimes, spaced from bedtime
  • Avoid alcohol after your last meal
  • Get regular exercise
  • Don’t nap late in the day
  • Don’t consume caffeine in the afternoon

Getting your body’s clock ticking regularly depends on keeping a consistent schedule. Trying to get extra sleep on the weekends is tempting, especially when you’re tired, but this can interfere with your sleep. You can also help your body set its sleep clock by creating a relaxing bedtime routine. Try to avoid things that might distract you from sleeping, such as reading, watching TV, playing video games, or scrolling social media in bed.

Other things you do can help your body get ready for sleeping, too. Make consistent mealtimes, and eat substantial, healthy meals. Keep your mealtimes spaced at least two hours before bedtime, and you shouldn’t consume alcohol after this point. Alcohol might help you fall asleep, but it disrupts your sleep later.

Get regular exercise during the day, hopefully outside, so you can get sun exposure. This will help you be tired at bedtime. While it’s tempting to take naps in the afternoon because you’re tired, the conventional wisdom is that you shouldn’t be taking a nap later than 2 PM. This is about the time you should cut off caffeine consumption, too. If you’re too tired to stay awake without afternoon caffeine, you’re too tired to manage your sleepiness without professional help.

Watch for Sleep Apnea Symptoms

Sleep apnea is one of the most common causes of daytime sleepiness. If you experience daytime sleepiness, you should look for other symptoms of sleep apnea. Talk to a sleep doctor or Omaha sleep dentist if, in addition to daytime sleepiness, you have:

  • Morning headaches
  • Dry mouth in the morning
  • Moodiness, irritability, or depression
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Memory problems
  • Nocturia (frequent nighttime urination)
  • Moments where you wake gasping for breath
  • Weight gain or inability to lose weight

In addition, your partner might report:

  • Loud snoring
  • Gasping or choking during sleep
  • Restless or noisy sleep
  • Pauses in breathing
  • Teeth grinding at night

You should also consider talking to a sleep doctor or Omaha sleep dentist if  your primary care or other doctor has diagnosed you with:

  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Migraines
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Depression

These medical conditions are frequently associated with sleep apnea. Some of them, like drug-resistant high blood pressure, are so strongly associated that they are considered indicative of the condition.

Sleep Apnea Diagnosis and Treatment in Omaha

If you suspect sleep apnea, the Advanced Dental Sleep Treatment Center in Omaha can help you get a sleep test to confirm it. If you’ve already been diagnosed with sleep apnea, we can help you find treatment. Our Omaha sleep dentists can fit you with an oral appliance, but we also have connections with leading sleep doctors in the Omaha area to help you get CPAP if you wish.

Please call (402) 493-4175 or use our online form to request an appointment at the Advanced Dental Sleep Treatment Center located in northwest Omaha, in North Park.