You eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. You exercise regularly each week and keep yourself in good shape. You’re very careful not to go overboard on alcohol, and you always wash your hands before eating. And yet you still seem to get sick a bit too often. Why is that? It could be that you have a disorder that’s preventing you from getting a good night’s rest – and that can seriously cause your health to decline. Here’s why sleep apnea in Denver weakens your immune system – and why it’s important to get prompt treatment to protect yourself.
How Does Sleep Help the Immune System?
When you’re asleep, your body produce proteins called cytokines; they help fight inflammation and infection. The longer you rest, the more cytokines you produce. Not only can this help you fight against illness, but you can also make it less likely to occur in the first place. Sleep also helps enhance the effectiveness of vaccines by increasing the number of antibodies.
How Is the Immune System Affected by Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a disorder that temporarily causes you to stop breathing while you’re asleep, whether it’s due to a physical obstruction (which is the most common cause) or the brain’s failure to regulate the necessary muscles. When this happens, your body will briefly wake you up so that breathing can resume; this can happen multiple times during the night, but each awakening will be so brief that you likely won’t remember (though occasionally you’ll find yourself waking up gasping for air).
Cytokines and antibodies are produced when you’re in the deeper phases of sleep, so if you don’t reach those phases, your immune system will suffer. Unfortunately, the constant disruptions caused by sleep apnea mean you’re unlikely to reach these phases often enough to fulfil your body’s needs.
I Think I Have Sleep Apnea; What Should I Do?
Sleep apnea can be difficult to identify on your own (although a partner or a roommate might notice that you snore loudly or sometimes make gasping sounds). However, if you are often excessively drowsy during the day or find yourself waking up with a headache or a sore throat, you might need to undergo a sleep study in Denver to check if you have a sleeping disorder.
If you do have sleep apnea, it can often be treated with an oral sleep appliance. It adjusts your jaw in a way that keeps your throat from being blocked by bulky soft tissues. It’s usually preferred over a CPAP device, which is effective but is also loud and cumbersome.
By treating your sleep apnea as soon as possible, you’ll help protect your health over the long term and help keep your immune system functioning at top capacity. Don’t let poor quality sleep force you to take more sick days!
About the Author
Dr. Gary Radz was diagnosed with severe sleep apnea in the past and was unable to use a CPAP machine to treat it. He eventually discovered oral sleep appliances and has enjoyed 8 years of excellent rest; he is thrilled to be able to offer his patients this potentially life-saving treatment at Downtown Denver Sleep Solutions. To schedule an appointment, visit his website or call (303) 377-5337.