Sleep Apnea can occur in Seemingly Healthy Individuals

Dr Devine Sleep Apnea

sleep apnea occurs in healthy individualsServing Brentwood, Belle Meade and Green Hills Areas of Nashville TN

If you are overweight or physically inactive, your risk of developing a sleep breathing disorder such as obstructive sleep apnea increases. However, healthy people—even athletes in peak physical condition—can develop obstructive sleep apnea.

Take the case of Mike Napoli, a veteran catcher, and first baseman in Major League Baseball who was diagnosed with a severe case of sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea is one of the most serious types of sleep breathing disorders

A patient with sleep apnea experiences an airway blockage during sleep. A patient with an advanced case of sleep apnea is more likely to experience complete airway collapses, and when this occurs, the flow of oxygen cuts off, and sleep is disrupted as the brain reacts as if the body is choking to death. This disrupts the sleep cycle, making it almost impossible to obtain the rest needed to restore the mind and body. Patients with sleep apnea experience these collapses as often as dozens of times per hour.

Napoli’s sleep apnea was extremely advanced. “The past eight years, I haven’t had a dream, because I never went into the REM,” he told a reporter for in January of 2015. “What I used to do is I’d sleep, and I’d probably wake up 50 to 100 times a night. I’d lay in bed until 12 o’clock trying to get sleep but never really did, but I’m so tired.”

The consistent lack of quality rest affected his performance. Napoli told that he slept through batting practice sometimes, and recalled games “that I came out of that people didn’t really know what happened, but it was because I was dizzy and really sleep-deprived.”

Napoli had a case of sleep apnea so severe that it necessitated major surgery to correct the issue. At Crestview Dental Care, we believe that a sleep breathing disorder can be prevented long before such a drastic procedure is needed—but only if a patient takes the step to be diagnosed.

Anyone can develop sleep apnea

If you snore loudly or feel excessively fatigued during the day, a sleep breathing disorder could be the cause. You can develop sleep apnea whether you are overweight, or an athlete in phenomenal shape. Focus on the behavior; not your physical condition. According to the American Sleep Apnea Association, more than 22 million people in the United States suffer from the disorder—and many of them go undiagnosed. Family history or lifestyle choices such as smoking can increase your susceptibility to sleep apnea. Certain studies suggest that athletes may actually be more vulnerable to sleep apnea. A 2003 study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, for example, noted that pro football players in America were five times more likely to develop sleep apnea because of the thick necks they develop from all the weightlifting that is done to prepare for the physical rigors of the sport.

Sleep apnea treatment in Nashville

Our dentists, Dr. Brian Devine, and Dr. Russell Mack practice sleep apnea dentistry. This is a specialization of dental science that focuses on identifying and treating issues related to the airway. Since any sleep breathing disorder stems from an obstruction in the airway, our dentists treat sleep apnea by addressing the root cause—the airway problem itself. We can conduct an airway evaluation to detect the presence of a sleep breathing disorder, and then begin a course of treatment. Our preferred method of treatment is a course of oral appliance therapy, which entails wearing a customized mouthguard that looks similar to an anti-snoring mouthpiece or night guard. When worn, these oral appliances guide the lower jaw forward, helping a patient maintain an open airway throughout sleep.

To schedule an airway evaluation for you or a member of your family, contact the office of Devine Dentistry today by calling (615) 269-4209.

Devine Dentistry offers state-of-the-art oral care to patients in the areas of Belle Meade, Green Hills, and Nashville in Tennessee.