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Zzz's and ENTs: How Your Ear, Nose, and Throat Doctor Can Improve Your Sleep Quality

Growing up, I was always taught to measure the quality of my sleep by the quantity of my sleep. Parents, teachers, coaches – they all told me the same thing… “Make sure you get 8 hours of sleep tonight, or you won’t be at your best tomorrow!” So, what did I do? I made sure to get my 8 hours of sleep each night. 

It didn’t take long for me to realize that getting enough sleep and getting quality sleep are two completely different things – any Royal Oak doctor would agree with that. Don’t get me wrong – the body needs a good 7-9 hours of sleep each night, but hitting that mark doesn’t always translate to a good night’s rest. 

In fact, there are a lot of factors that play a role in sleep quality. How long it takes to fall asleep, how long you’re asleep before waking up, how many times you wake up during the night, how difficult it is to fall back asleep, and how rested we feel throughout the day – quantity is important, but it’s not everything.

So, how can we improve our sleep quality?

Well, that’s the million-dollar question, isn’t it? We all want to sleep like a baby (or a rock, whichever you prefer), but most of us can’t recall the last time we actually did so. In fact, the CDC estimates that 1 in 3 American adults don’t get enough quality sleep each night – a number that’s highest among males. 

Here are some of the most prominent things you can start doing today to improve your sleep quality

  • Ensure the proper sleep environment (dark, quiet, and relaxing vibe)
  • Keep your bedroom between 60 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit 
  • Maintain a consistent and regular sleep schedule or ritual
  • Make sure you’re getting enough sunlight during the day – it helps the body produce Vitamin D
  • Exercise regularly, but not too close to your bedtime
  • Don’t use your bedroom for anything but sleep
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine before going to bed
  • Practice mindfulness and stress management techniques before bed
  • Avoid screen use for at least one hour before going to bed

Making these changes will have a drastic impact on your ability to fall asleep, stay asleep, and wake up properly. If you’re still having a hard time getting a good night’s sleep, contact your ear, nose, and throat (ENT) doctor in Royal Oak – you might be suffering from obstructive sleep apnea, but they can help!

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA): The Not-So-Silent Sleep Thief

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is one of the biggest culprits of poor sleep quality. People with OSA have a hard time breathing while sleeping, which causes them to wake up multiple times throughout the night. Since unobstructed sleep is essential to getting a good night’s rest, people with OSA rarely sleep well. 

OSA is caused by the complete or partial collapse of the airways, making it difficult to breathe. As a result, blood oxygen levels start to drop, and your brain kicks into survival mode – causing you to wake up. Some cases are more severe than others, but most people with OSA wake up 15-25 times every hour. 

One of the most common symptoms of OSA is snoring – in fact, approximately 90% of all people with OSA snore regularly (and often loudly). Other symptoms include excessive daytime sleepiness, frequently waking up during the night, not breathing for 10-30 seconds while you sleep, and waking up feeling tired.

Zzz’s, OSA, & ENTs: Counting Sheep, Not Breaths

If you’re experiencing symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea, schedule an appointment with your local ear, nose, and throat (ENT) doctor immediately. A thorough examination of your airways, nasal passages, sinuses, turbinates, septum, tonsils, adenoids, uvula, and soft palate can help diagnose the problem. 

Receiving a diagnosis is often the first step to improving the quality of your sleep. Your doctor will create a personalized treatment plan to ensure the airways remain open and clear while you sleep. Most people will see improvement with a CPAP device or a custom mouthguard, but some people will require surgery.

Here are some of the ways your ENT doctor can help you count sheep – not breaths: 

  • Septoplasty - a type of surgery that corrects problems with the nasal septum (such as a deviated septum). 
  • Turbinate Reduction - a procedure that uses radiofrequency energy to remove excess tissue around the enlarged turbinate bones. 
  • Functional Endoscopic Sinus Surgery - a procedure that opens the sinus air cells and sinus ostia.
  • Somnoplasty - a procedure that uses radiofrequency energy to remove excess tissue in the uvula and/or soft palate.
  • Balloon Sinuplasty - a procedure that treats sinusitis by inflating a balloon-like object inside the sinus.
  • Tonsillectomy - a procedure that removes the tonsils and adenoids, if they’re causing obstruction of the airways.
  • Pillar Implant - a procedure that places several implants in the soft palate to reduce snoring and clear airways.

The primary goal behind treating obstructive sleep apnea is to clear the airways, reduce the effects of snoring, and improve breathing during sleep. While this can be done in a wide range of ways (as seen above), your ENT doctor will determine the right surgery for you – aimed at addressing the root cause. 

The Rontal Difference: Unobstructed Sleep for a Healthier You!

Are you frequently tired throughout the day, despite getting enough sleep each night? Do you often wake up in the middle of the night, fighting for your breath? Does your partner complain about how loud your snoring is? Do you tend to stop breathing for 10-30 seconds in your sleep? If so, then you’re not alone!

Millions of people struggle to get a good night’s sleep, but your nighttime prayers could be answered with a trip to your friendly neighborhood ENT doctor. With decades of experience helping patients just like you, The Rontal Clinic is proud to serve the Royal Oak community – so don’t hesitate to contact us today!