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Baseball player pitching a ballHave you ever been around a newborn baby? Parents of newborns understand all too well what it means to not get any sleep. Some nights, a baby wakes up every 30 to 45 minutes and is ready to start the day by 3 A.M., which means that mom has to get through the day on maybe a couple of hours of sleep. If you have obstructive sleep apnea, you also know what that’s like. You may sleep, but you rarely reach the deep REM dream state, and even after eight hours of lying in bed, you feel like you barely slept at all.

The Problem With Sleep Apnea

Sleep is an essential part of human life and helps your body heal, fight off infections, recover, and produce growth hormones. If you’re not getting adequate sleep, you may need to undergo a sleep study to determine whether you have sleep apnea.

Obstructive sleep apnea is a serious medical condition that affects millions of Americans. With sleep apnea, it’s not that you’re just a little tired during the day, you’re perpetually exhausted and ready to fall asleep at any given moment. Your mental focus may be fuzzy all the time, and the idea of doing anything that requires even a smidgen of energy seems like trying to run a marathon. Obstructive sleep apnea has been associated with an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, stroke, and even premature death.

Mike Napoli’s Experience With Sleep Apnea

Major league baseball player Mike Napoli was a long-time sufferer of sleep apnea. It was so bad for Napoli that he would wake up as much as a hundred times every night. As for how it affected his career, he’d sometimes miss batting practice, or he’d sleep during practice and be dizzy after a game. Sleep deprivation is particularly detrimental to athletes because it can impede reflexes, slow reaction time, impair judgment, obstruct the ability to focus or pay attention, and prevent the body from healing fully or quickly.

Getting Sleep Apnea Surgery

In November of 2014, Napoli made headlines for undergoing major sleep apnea surgery so he could finally get the rest he needed at night. The procedure is called bimaxillary reconstruction or maxillomandibular advancement surgery, and it requires breaking the upper and lower jaw to permanently adjust their position and open the airways. Sound painful? Napoli says, “It was probably one of the worst things I’ve ever done…I spent two days in the ICU after. I mean, it was 10 days of just pain.”

But for Napoli, the surgery changed his life: “Before, when I was doing stuff around the cage, I was so lazy and tired, I didn’t even want to pick up the balls. Now, I finish hitting and I drop my bat and I’m running around picking up all the balls. It’s been a tough offseason, but I think it’s worth it.”

Dr. Christopher Winter, Medical Director of Charlottesville Neurology and Sleep Medicine in Virginia, has conducted research on major league baseball players and sleep patterns. One of the conclusions of Dr. Winter’s research was that well-rested players tend to stay in major league baseball for longer than sleepy players. In other words, sleepy players are less likely to last in the major leagues. It’s not hard to see why Mike Napoli felt the need to undergo surgery—not only did it reduce his chronic fatigue, it also may have saved his career.

Getting the Right Treatment for Your Sleep Apnea

Like Napoli, people who suffer from sleep apnea need effective treatment so that they can get the rest they need to function and live a healthy life. However, not all individuals need major jaw surgery, and a CPAP machine is not your only alternative. If you have sleep apnea, you could benefit from oral appliance therapy. Oral appliances offer a comfortable and convenient way to keep your airway open while you sleep. Dr. Jamie Sands makes custom oral appliances for people with sleep apnea to help them get the treatment they need for a better quality of life.

Oral appliance therapy with Dr. Jamie Sands can treat your obstructive sleep apnea and improve your health and the quality of your sleep. To request your free consultation with Dr. Sands, call (818) 306-5153 or contact us online today.