(Good Things Utah) As many of us have figured out the hard way, getting a quality night of sleep can greatly affect how we’re able to function. Poor habits like staying up late, not getting enough sleep, and eating too close to bedtime are just a few of the factors that can make or break how we feel when we wake up in the morning.

Beyond the habits that are in our control, other medical variables like sleep disorders can affect our sleep quality along with our overall health. One of the most common sleep disorders being left untreated today is sleep apnea.

Affecting millions of Americans each year, sleep apnea can be a potentially serious sleep disorder where breathing stops and starts throughout the night. Usually characterized by loud snoring and fatigue after a full night’s sleep, many don’t know they have sleep apnea and what it does to their health.

How does sleep apnea affect our health?

Sleep apnea occurs overnight when airways become obstructed and prevent our bodies from getting enough oxygen. “A lot of people don’t realize that they’re stopping breathing during the night, sometimes up to 2 minutes at a time or more,” remarks Melissa Lowry, a specialist with Sound Sleep Medical in Utah.

Those whose bodies don’t get enough oxygen at night are at much higher risk for things like anxiety and depression, but also more serious conditions like strokes, dementia, and diabetes. In addition, experts are finding that sleep apnea can play a big role in our metabolism, requiring a combination of both nutrients and oxygen to keep our bodies functioning as they should.

Testing for sleep apnea

Considering the possible risk associated with sleep apnea, experts at Sleep Sound Medical recommend getting screened as soon as possible. By wearing an at-home kit for only one night of sleep, a qualified physician will have enough data recorded to determine whether or not you’re suffering from sleep apnea.

This comprehensive sleep screening works by monitoring activity in the heart, lungs, and brain, as well as breathing patterns and body movements throughout the night. A physician will also be able to tell you to what degree of the apnea you’re experiencing (mild, moderate, or severe obstructive).

Oral Appliance Therapy

This treatment is used by the team at Sound Sleep Medical as an alternative to the traditional CPAP. Oral Appliance Therapy involves patients wearing a custom-made mouthpiece only at night during sleep. By wearing this piece, the lower jaw is stabilized, keeping airways open and oxygen levels up.

“These are much, much easier than CPAP machines,” says Lowry. “There’s no electricity, there’s no mask or hoses like a CPAP machine.”

Covered by most insurance plans, this treatment is an easy way to make sure our bodies get continuous air intake. Being a great alternative to CPAP treatment or invasive surgeries, both patients and physicians alike prefer this treatment option for sleep apnea.

To schedule a sleep screening with Sound Sleep Medical, visit them online at SoundSleepMedical.com.

**This segment contains sponsored content