The Dangers of Sleep Deprivation (Podcast)
Dr. Nammy Patel from Green Dentistry talks with John Maher about how sleep deprivation affects your health. She explains the link between grinding, sleep apnea, and sleep deprivation. Then, she covers tips on how to sleep better.
John Maher: Hi, I’m John Maher. I’m here today with Dr. Nammy Patel, founder of Green Dentistry in San Francisco, California, helping patients recognize the vital connection between dental health and whole body health, and author of the best-selling book, Age with Style: Guide to a Youthful Smile & Healthy Living. Today, our topic is the dangers of sleep deprivation. Welcome, Dr. Nammy.
Dr. Nammy Patel: Hi, John. Thank you for having me.
How Does Sleep Deprivation Affect the Body?
John: Sure, absolutely. So Dr. Nammy, how does sleep deprivation affect the body, both in the short term and in the long term?
Dr. Nammy: So John, sleep is really important for our body. We are probably one of the species that really needs sleep in order to regenerate and recoup. And if we don’t get short term sleep, our brain is not able to relax. So what we usually find is a lot of exhaustion, inability to focus, mood swings, headaches. And to be honest, one of the most common things that we find with people with lack of sleep is actually car accidents. Have you heard of people falling asleep at the wheel?
John: Right, absolutely.
Car Accidents and Lack of Sleep
Dr. Nammy: And that’s usually it. It’s chronic, it’s stress or if they haven’t slept really well, they’ll close their eyes because our brain does need time to recoup. It does need time to shut down. It does need time to give your body a minute to relax and let all the cells detox and really regenerate all the cells that we need in order to live.
John: So if you’re suffering from sleep deprivation, then you can have all kinds of other things happen because you’re maybe nodding off at inappropriate times because you’re just so tired, your body is so exhausted.
Anxiety and Lack of Sleep
Dr. Nammy: Right. And a lot of accidents happen because if we don’t get sleep, we just can’t function. We can’t focus. I mean, it’s really a big challenge. And to be honest, one of the things that we hear about a lot is also people with anxiety. That anxiety actually comes from a lack of sleep.
What Are the Causes of Sleep Deprivation?
John: Okay. So what are some of the most common causes of sleep deprivation?
Dr. Nammy: So there are a lot of causes for sleep deprivation. It could be stress. It could be hormones. It could be aging. Sometimes even allergens can cause sleep deprivation.
Also, commonly known as sleep apnea is if the tongue is too large or if the sinuses are congested… we call it upper airway resistance. The trouble with all of these things is that if you’re not even getting enough sleep for a long period of time, that’s really the issue.
What Is Bruxism?
John: Okay. And I’ve heard of something called bruxism as well. What is that?
Dr. Nammy: Bruxism is called grinding. So the reason why you grind your teeth if you’re sleep deprived is because when we are sleeping, we’re supine. So what happens is the tongue falls back. And if the tongue falls back, we’re not able to get airway, which is an autonomic function, meaning that our brain even when we’re asleep knows how to breathe.
That’s how we don’t die in our sleep. And our brains are designed to keep breathing without us having to think about it. And so when our tongue falls back, we’re not able to get enough oxygen. So what our body does is actually our jaw grinds in order to try to push that tongue out the way. So that’s where a lot of grinding comes from.
Now with clenching, a lot of patients have airway obstruction. So like with allergies or their sinuses are really congested. So when that happens, they will kind of clench their teeth to try to get more air. So that’s where you get clenching and grinding is from not being able to breathe really well.
Relationship Between Sleep Deprivation, Sleep Apnea and Bruxism
John: So sleep deprivation and sleep apnea and bruxism can all be related to each other.
Dr. Nammy: Yes, they can all be related to each other. One of the things actually as a dentist I look for and the American Dental Association actually asks dentists to screen patients for is sleep apnea or sleep deprivation.
One of the most common signs we will find is grinding. And then also breakage of teeth at the gum line, because there’s so much force on the teeth when we’re trying to breathe. And your teeth are stronger than bones. And when it fractures off, that means it’s really severe. Our body is going to try to keep us alive at any cost. And if that means we break a tooth, it’s not going to care. It wants to get that oxygen in, because remember, we only have eight minutes. Our brain can only live eight minutes without oxygen.
Remedies for Poor Sleep
John: Right. So what are some potential remedies to getting poor sleep quality at night?
Dr. Nammy: So there’s a lot of things you can do naturally at home that are simple things that will make a big difference. One of the things I always tell my patients is before, everyone always talks about a morning routine on how well they get up, and they get on and about, and they work out, and they meditate, and all this other stuff.
I say, do a nightly routine. So before going to bed, take a shower so that your body can refocus. It’s going to start focusing on health and wellness. I would say, do some deep breathing. Take the electronics away. Some melatonin is really fantastic.
And the biggest reason I recommend deep breathing is because when we’re not able to breathe really well, it actually causes high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attacks, heart failure, and stroke. So our body needs that vasovagal or that relaxation. And when we sit and breathe through our nose for about 10 to 20 minutes, it really makes a difference for us. And that’s the reason why we want to be sleeping at night and we want to be breathing through our nose.
How Can Dentists Help Patients Sleep Better?
John: So Dr. Nammy, you’re a holistic dentist. I mean, a lot of people might think, “Oh, if I have sleep apnea or I’m having trouble sleeping, I should go to my primary care physician and talk to my doctor about it.” How can a dentist help patients to sleep better?
Dr. Nammy: One of the things that we do is we screen patients for apnea. We actually also screen patients for upper airway resistance. There’s a lot of things we can do. Like I said before, I would first start with the basics, which is let’s make sure we get a nightly routine. Let’s make sure we’re cutting out gluten and dairy and any allergens that might be there.
Let’s also try to minimize the stress. Maybe some magnesium bath salts before you go to bed. Those are all really great things to start with. And then we actually have appliances that we use for patients.
One of the ones that I actually absolutely love is called Vivos. It’s basically to bring life into people again. So what Vivos actually does is activate the stem cells to expand the palate and also the jaw so that you can get better breathing. And in a way, it actually stops apnea, which is wonderful. It makes enough space for the tongue so the tongue doesn’t fall back when you’re sleeping. And then as that expansion is occurring, there’s enough expansion in the sinus space so that you can actually breathe really well.
How Vivos and Ozone Therapy Help With Sleep Apnea
John: Okay. So if you’re suffering from sleep apnea because of these issues with your tongue, like you said, this Vivos appliance can actually help to expand your airway and make it so that your tongue is not falling back into your throat like that.
Dr. Nammy: Yeah, absolutely. And we also have different appliances that we can utilize as well. Vivos is one example. We actually have six or seven different appliances that we can use for patients in the office. So it’s really great. And then we combine that with ozone therapy, making sure that the sinuses are clean, making sure we’re lowering inflammation. It really makes a world of difference.
Contact Green Dentistry to Talk About Better Sleep
John: Right, absolutely. All right. Well, that’s really great information, Dr. Nammy. Thanks again for speaking with me today.
Dr. Nammy: Awesome, John.
John: And for more information about Green Dentistry, visit the website at sfgreendentist.com or call (415) 433-0119.