Even though Lexi came to find a natural solution to her fatigue and low energy levels, I knew I had to get to the root cause of the problem.
The first thing I did was ask about sleep. It may seem surprising, but it’s shocking how many people deal with poor sleep quality, and continue living their lives assuming it’s relatively normal.
To chat more about this, I called in Dr. Meghna Dassani. Dr. Dassani is a renowned wellness leader, international speaker, and Obstructive Sleep Apnea Expert. She’s the author of Healthy Sleep, Happy Kids, and Sleep. Breath. Dream, both available on Amazon.
What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is diagnosed in approximately 5.9 million people in the US, and about 23.5 million people are living with undiagnosed cases of OSA. Sleep Apnea is a sleep disorder where breathing is repeatedly interrupted. With Obstructive Sleep Apnea, your throat muscles relax and cause obstruction to the airways.
There is a lot that people do not understand about sleep apnea. Anybody can have sleep apnea, and present with a variety of different symptoms. Less air while you’re sleeping leads to a less restful sleep, and decreased energy throughout the day.
Do You Or Your Children Have Sleep Apnea?
Most people dealing with sleep apnea first present with snoring and fatigue. But in the case of children, it can be challenging to spot. Sometimes the most common symptom, (fatigue) is brushed off because so many kids and teens are tired.
In addition to fatigue, kids or teens with sleep apnea may also experience these symptoms:
Dr. Dassani recommends parents take children to the hospital for a sleep study to be done. In general, getting a sleep study or sleep lab done will help in understanding the severity of your case.
Connection Between Jaw Shape and Sleep Apnea
Dr. Dassani explained that ‘tongue-tie’ is when your tongue is quite tightly tied to the roof of the mouth. The tongue is meant to be passively resting in the mouth, rather than firmly pressed to the roof. The ‘roof’ of the mouth can also be seen as the ‘floor’ of the nose, and if the tongue is too tight, it may obstruct the airway from the nose during sleep, causing the mouth to open.
A narrow jaw shape can increase the risk of sleep apnea because there is less room for the air to pass through the space and the tongue may cause an obstruction.. Extra body weight can also increase the potential for obstructive sleep apnea.
Children should be encouraged to breathe through their nose whenever possible. Any child who has a hard time breathing through the nose because of congestion, allergies, or anything else, should deal with these obstructions before mouth breathing becomes a habit.
Treating the Jaw for Obstructive Sleep Apnea
A CPAP (continuous positive air pressure) machine is portable, sits on your nightstand and comes with a mask that you put on over your face at night. The CPAP machine is the most commonly encouraged tool for increasing airflow while you sleep. This machine however does not work for everybody.
Another option is to have a dentist create an oral appliance to hold the lower jaw forward. This prevents the tongue from falling back, and holds the airway open. This appliance is similar to a mouthguard, but is built differently and is custom made to allow your jaw to be held in the right position while you sleep.
In children, growth spurts allow for appliances and expanders to help resolve them before they get older. In general, children have a tough time using a CPAP machine so it’s crucial to pursue natural options sooner rather than later. Osteopaths, craniosacral therapists, and myofunctional therapists can help with connecting the dots and supporting the jaw shape as the child grows to reduce the potential for sleep apnea.
I worked with Lexi’s doctor and got her into a sleep study. Our suspicions were confirmed - Lexi’s fatigue was due to a lack of restful sleep and more specifically Obstructive Sleep Apnea. She was able to get a dental appliance to combat the sleep apnea. Plus, we looked to her little guy and saw signs like open mouth breathing and congestion that likely explained why he wasn’t sleeping well either (and was constantly waking Lexi up).
On a nutrition front, we decreased the dairy that she and her little guy were eating because dairy is very mucous producing and can often contribute to congestion.
We were able to address the issue before it increased Lexi’s risk of high blood pressure, needing multiple medications to reduce symptoms, and being at a heightened risk of strokes, alzheimers, and diabetes. Good sleep is extremely important for the brain and body’s health over time, and for Lexi (and her son), solving this issue meant more than just feeling less tired.
Eliminating Health Mysteries
With Lexi’s case, we were able to find that missing piece of this health puzzle and help her get her energy back by addressing the sleep apnea. Could this be the missing clue for you or someone in your life?
Thanks to my guest Dr. Meghna Dassani. You can learn more about her via her website www.meghnadassani.com, and you can find her books, Healthy Sleep Happy Kids and Sleep. Breathe. Dream. on Amazon.
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