5/5

Firefighters Need Sleep

Firemen and Firefighters Need Sleep!

by Lance Timmerman DMD

Our local firefighters do a fantastic job of keeping us safe. Because of them and their efforts, Seattle sleep apnea dentist Lance Timmerman DMD and us can sleep at night with the security that they will be there for us if we ever need them. We all hope that we will never call upon them, but if we do, we are forever grateful for their tireless service. For them to BE there for us, they need proper sleep and not simply “putting in the hours” but having the kind of sleep that actually does what it is supposed to do. Quality of sleep goes hand in hand with QUANTITY of sleep.

Quality Sleep

Putting in the hours, simply going to bed at night and getting up 8 hours later may make it seem that one is doing as told and getting sleep. However, this can be misleading. Due to many factors (nightlights, white noise, position, temperature, etc.) one may only get short bursts of sleep and not a continuous 8 hours. It is possible that while one was in bed for 8 hours, they only got 2-3 hours of actual sleep. Since it takes an average of 90 minutes to get to the REM stage of sleep, the real quality dream state with reparative functions, a person that only gets 45 minute spurts of sleep never gets into the REM state, despite putting in the required time.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

A major reason that people aren’t getting quality sleep is because they are fighting for their life all night long, often (not always) literally gasping for air. If their airway is obstructed, often at the back of their throat, their brain will tell the body to wake up in order to breathe. An obstruction that lasts 10 seconds or more is called APNEA and during this time the amount of oxygen in the bloodstream can plummet to dangerous levels. Given enough time, low O2 can lead to many diseases including heart attacks, stroke, high blood pressure and even cancer.

Drowsy Driving is Like Drunk Driving

If deprived of sleep the effects are similar to drunk driving. In order for our firefighters to save us, our home or our possessions they need to drive to our location, unless we are lucky enough to live next door. I don’t think I am alone in saying that I don’t want a drunk driver bringing firefighters to my house, so why would I be comfortable having a drowsy firefighter bringing the fire truck?

Oral Appliance Therapy

Oral appliance therapy has been shown to be as effective as a CPAP machine in many cases of obstructive sleep apnea. Firefighters especially need quality of sleep in order to keep us safe and oral appliance therapy allows firemen to share a room and not be forced to sleep in their car away from others. This oral device, in all of its many designs, is comfortable and makes no noise whatsoever. It is easy to travel with and most people will not even know that it is being worn.

Quality Sleep Adds Years to Your Life

OSA, obstructive sleep apnea, has been shown to decrease lifespan to those that suffer from it. By getting treatment, the decreased years can remain and the span of life is improved. Beyond the added years is the quality of life. Waking refreshed allows one to be “their best” and more alert. Edgy or distracted people are often simply sleep deprived and with a good night’s sleep can focus better and perform better. Who would benefit more from performance than a firefighter?

Lance Timmerman

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