Sleep Awareness Week

On average, Americans enjoy 7.4 hours of sleep each night, which meets the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation of seven or more hours. That means, thirty percent of our day should be dedicated to getting the rest we need.  For some, achieving this goal is attainable without much effort. However, for others, the thought of getting seven hours of sleep is merely a dream, for those who literally can’t sleep long enough to dream.


While a majority of American adults experience the recommended amount of sleep, more than a third aren’t. There are a number of contributing factors that can be at play that impact one’s quality of sleep; however, there is one fact applicable to all: sleep is critical, and the lack thereof results in poor health. Do you find yourself among the majority or among those not getting the rest needed?


Could This Be You?


A common challenge when trying to address poor sleep is that most people think they’re just tired and don’t realize they may have a sleeping disorder that can be managed.  Typically, when I suspect a sleep disorder, I begin asking questions, such as whether the patient tosses and turns at night. Funny enough, I find children are better at answering this question than adults are. Usually, I’ll ask something like: “When you wake up, are your covers off the bed? Are your sheets all messed up? Is your head on the other side of the bed than when you went to sleep?” If the patient tells me they wake up in a completely different position and that their bedsheets are in complete disarray, I know they likely have some sort of sleep disorder. When you’re in deep sleep, you shouldn’t be tossing and turning.  Some additional signs I look for include:


  • Do you snore – this tends to be a classic symptom of a sleep-disordered breathing or sleep apnea.  Regardless of how loud or soft it is, a snore is a snore.
  • Placement of the tongue – a tongue that sits in the back of the throat is more likely to be an obstruction than one that rests in the lower cavity of the mouth, behind the teeth. The more space the tongue occupies in the mouth, the greater your chances of having a sleep disorder.
  • Airway blockage – blockage of the airway can occur in the nose or by the tongue, uvula, tonsils or a drooping soft palate.
  • Your teeth – the condition of the teeth can be an indicator of a sleep disorder. Symptoms with the teeth that I look for include the number of missing teeth; a narrow arch, which can crowd the tongue; crooked teeth, from the tongue, moving around trying to open the airway; and broken teeth and crowns, which occur when a person grinds their teeth at night.


If you currently don’t count yourself among the majority in getting the recommended amount of sleep, there’s something that can be done about it. If you suspect there is a physical reason for your restless nights, visit our office or a TMJ/Sleep Disorder provider near you. Learn more about next steps by visiting,