Sleep Disorders may be a Sign of Other Neurological Conditions

Sleep disorders point towards other impending neurological conditions according to recent studies. Over the past few years we’ve learned about the connection between obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA, and hypertension, obesity, and heart disease. However, new studies are now showing a possible connection to neurological conditions that develop later in life.

The Bethesda Center for Family and Cosmetic Dentistry specializes in treating patients who suffer from sleep disorders. We enjoy providing our patients with the latest information on their disorders as well as treatment options. Our professional and courteous staff is standing by to help answer your questions.

Sleep Disorders and REM Sleep

The effects of sleep disorders are far greater than we could have ever anticipated. As research develops, we are now learning about how some of these disorders may actually indicate a higher risk for developing severe neurological conditions. Research presented this year in Canada showed a possible connection between some disorders and Parkinson’s disease. According to Cosmos magazine:

John Peever of the University of Toronto told the 2017 Canadian Neuroscience Meeting, the annual gathering of the Canadian Association for Neuroscience, that factors that interfere with dream-sleep could signal the breakdown of circuits within the brain stem.

We dream during the REM cycle of sleep. During this time we experience mental images, muscle paralysis, and significant brain activity in the cortical region. We don’t fully comprehend the factors that cause this activity. However, Peever’s study puts us one step closer to understanding. Cosmos magazine continues:

Peever, however, has identified certain cells, which he dubs REM-active neurons, that seem critical to the process. Using rats, he and his team established that they are responsible for initiating dream sleep.

“When we switch on these cells, it causes a rapid transition into REM sleep,” he said before the meeting.

The research shows that several serious sleep disorders result in the dysfunctional REM-active neurons.

Dysfunctional REM-Active Neurons and Sleep Disorders

The most startling statistic uncovered in the study is that over 80% of the patients who suffered from sleep disorders with dysfunctional REM-active neurons develop other neurological conditions. These more severe conditions include disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia.

Therefore, it stands to reason, that these sleep disorders could very well be an early warning sign of these conditions according to Peever:

 “Our research suggest sleep disorders may be an early warning sign for diseases that may appear some 15 years later in life,” he said.

“Much like we see in people prone to cancer, diagnosing REM disorders may allow us to provide individuals with preventative actions to keep them healthy long before they develop these more serious neurological conditions.”

This research breakthrough can lead through the discovery and development of preventative treatments. We may even be able to use this information in an attempt to design a treatment plan that can delay the onset of neurological symptoms, or prevent them all together.

Treatment for Sleep Disorders

Until we reach the point of being able to prevent diseases like Parkinson’s, we can still treat the sleep disorders themselves. In fact, it’s highly encouraged that you do everything you can to treat your sleep disorder now. Delaying treatment can be detrimental to both your health, and the health of others. These disorders wreak havoc on your body if they are left unchecked. It’s important to speak with your doctor as soon as possible if you suspect that you or a loved one may be suffering from a sleeping disorder.

Without treatment, you are susceptible to developing additional conditions that have the potential to become life threatening. You also run the risk of having an increased chance of being involved in an automobile or workplace accident. By treating your sleeping disorder, you are improving your health and reducing the chances of being involved in an accident due to inadequate sleep.

Treatment Options for Sleep Disorders

Many patients suffering from OSA are opting to use a new treatment option. They’re now making appointments with dentists specially trained in treating patients suffering from sleep disorders. These dentists are fitting patients with individualized dental appliances that help keep their airway open.

This course of treatment is helping patients treat their sleep disorder without the use of bulky machinery. Dentists and patients alike prefer this option over the hassle and inconvenience of traditional CPAP machines. This type of treatment is said to be more comfortable. It’s also much easier to travel with. The most important thing is to find a treatment plan you will follow. The treatment only effective when used properly.

Make your appointment with a trained and experienced dentist. They will be able to evaluate your condition and advise if you’re an eligible candidate for dental appliance therapy. Most patients who suffer from mild to moderate sleep apnea qualify for this type of treatment. Don’t put your health on the back burner. Take charge of your life by taking charge of your sleep disorder.

Call the Bethesda Center for Family and Cosmetic Dentistry today at (310) 530-3600 for more information on the treatment of sleep disorders.

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