I’m Tired All the Time – Help

I’m tired all the time, even during the day, even during a good night’s sleep. I’ve been to doctor after doctor. They say I’m fine. I’m not. I can barely stay awake some days. I know you’re a dentist, not a medical doctor, but I’m hoping you have an idea outside of the box. I feel like all the doctors are doing is checking off boxes. I feel stupid asking, but I’m desperate.

Julia

Dear Julia,

I’m sorry you’re facing this and feeling not listened to during a difficult time. The first thing I’ll ask is if your doctor checked your thyroid levels and if he did it using free T3 and free T4 readings? If he hasn’t, start there. If he already has, then I have a strong suspicion you have sleep apnea.

You can learn more about this condition on our “Sleep Apnea Page”.

Three illustations: Mild sleep apnea Ileft), Obstructive sleep apnea (center), Repaired sleep apnea (right)

If you look at the three images above, it will give you a good understanding of what could be going on with you. The first image (on the left) shows a mild blockage of your breathing passage. This generally causes snoring. I don’t know if you’re a snorer or not, but that is often one of the first signs of someone struggling with sleep apnea. The center image shows a bigger blockage. This is known as severe sleep apnea.

What’s happening is your breathing passage is being blocked, cutting off your oxygen. Your body subconsciously recognizes this is happening and startles you awake so your passage will open again. This can happen hundreds of times a night. You won’t even realize it’s happening.

If that’s what going on, no wonder you’re exhausted!

Do You have Sleep Apnea?

The first thing you’ll want to do is have a sleep study done. This is usually covered by insurance with a prescription from your doctor. Most are willing to write one without any fuss.

With a sleep study, you’ll be monitored for an evening and they’ll observe your sleep patterns. If you have sleep apnea, they’ll be able to tell you.

From there, it’s just a trip to your dentist where he can custom design an orthotic device to move your jaw into its appropriate place to keep your breathing passage clear while you sleep. Because it’s custom fit for your bite, it will be perfectly comfortable.

Don’t try to do this with a cheap over-the-counter orthotic. It can do serious damage to your bite, leading to TMJ Disorder.

I hope this helps you get the relief you need. This blog is brought to you by Newton Cosmetic Dentist Dr. Steve Bader.