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Are You Sabotaging Your Success with Poor Sleep? Here's What You Need to Know

Updated: Dec 15, 2023


Poor sleep quality vector
Source: Images by vectorjuice on Freepik

Getting high-quality sleep every night is essential for performing at your best in all areas of life, including work, school, sports, and home. Unfortunately, an estimated 77% of adults in Malaysia between the ages of 30 and 69 have a sleep-related breathing disorder that prevents them from achieving high-quality sleep, leading to increased health and mental problems.

Signs Of Low-Quality Sleep

It's essential to be aware of the signs of low-quality sleep, which include following:

  • Unrefreshing sleep, i.e. often waking up feeling tired in the morning

  • Having difficulty getting out of bed in the morning,

  • Often have a stuffy nose in the morning,

  • Daytime tiredness or fatigue,

  • Daytime sleepiness,

  • Poor memory and concentration,,

  • Tends to fall asleep during meetings, in front of the TV, or when stopping at traffic lights.

  • Depressive moods,

  • Often needing more than 30 minutes to fall asleep,

  • Wakes up at least twice a night to go to the toilet.

  • Moves a lot during sleep,

  • Teeth grinding and/or during sleep,

  • Sleeps with open mouth, and/or often wakes up with dry mouth and dry throat,

  • Waking up in the morning with neck aches, shoulder aches, tired cheek muscles and/or headaches at the side of the head, and/or neck and shoulder aches,

  • Habitual snoring,

  • Your spouse, bed partner, roommate or family member noticed you snorting, gasping, choking or stopped breathing during sleep.

Test Your Sleep Quality

If you are experiencing these symptoms, it's essential to get a home sleep quality test to evaluate your sleep quality and determine whether a sleep-breathing disorder is affecting it. By wearing a device in the shape of a ring while sleeping, you can quantify your actual sleep quality in the comfort of your own bed. If the test reveals a sleep-breathing disorder, a dental sleep medicine (DSM)-trained dentist can help formulate a plan to improve your breathing and sleep quality.

A Sleep-Related Breathing Disorder May Be Impairing Your Sleep Quality

Sleep-related breathing disorders, including obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and upper airway resistance syndrome (UARS), occur when airways narrow and/or block during sleep, leading to disrupted sleep patterns. As we fall asleep, our muscles, including those in our tongue, relax, causing the tongue to drop down further down the throat during deeper sleep stages. This can create a narrow space behind the tongue, which causes air to flow faster, leading to snoring sounds. As the tongue drops further down the throat, there's a risk of it completely blocking the airway, leading to breathing problems. This is known as an apnea episode, which can cause people to awaken suddenly, often with gasping or choking sounds, to resume breathing. People with sleep apnea may experience multiple apnea episodes during the night, preventing them from getting restful sleep. (See the illustration below)

UARS, on the other hand, does not cause apnea, and people may or may not snore. Still, the narrowing of the airway leads to micro-arousals or mini-awakenings, which interrupts restful sleep, leading to lower sleep quality.

A Dental Sleep Medicine (DSM)-Trained Dentist Can Help You Breathe And Sleep Better

It's crucial to seek help from a dental sleep medicine (DSM)-trained dentist if you or someone you know is experiencing the signs of low-quality sleep. The FDI World Dental Federation and the American Dental Association have called on dentists to play a more prominent role in identifying sleep-related breathing disorders in their patients and receiving training to treat them.


High-quality sleep is the secret weapon for performing at your best in all areas of life. However, sleep-related breathing disorders, including OSA and UARS, can prevent people from achieving high-quality sleep, leading to a host of health and mental problems. If you or someone you know is experiencing signs of low-quality sleep, visit Sim & Hooi Dental Clinic and seek the help of Dr Larry Au-Yong, a DSM-trained dentist to determine if a sleep-breathing disorder is affecting your sleep quality and formulate a plan to improve it.

Illustrations below showing a wide airway (1), narrowed airway (2), a blocked airway (3) and an airway being kept opened with a custom dental sleep device (4)

Illustration 1:

The side view of a person sleeping on their back reveals an unobstructed airway behind the tongue, allowing for easy breathing.

Illustration 2:

However, during deep sleep, the tongue can relax and fall back, narrowing the airway and causing turbulence in airflow, which produces the snoring sound due to soft palate vibration.

Illustration 3:

In some cases, the tongue can completely block the airway, causing the person to stop breathing, leading to a brief awakening known as a micro-arousal. As the tongue lifts and reopens the airway, a snort, gasp, or choking sound may occur without the person's awareness. These episodes, called apnea, can happen repeatedly throughout the night, disrupting restful sleep.

Illustration 4:

During sleep, a custom dental sleep device is worn by an individual to avoid the narrowing of the airway. The device works by gently pushing the lower jaw forward in a comfortable manner, which help prevent the tongue from falling back and obstructing the airway. This ensures that breathing during sleep is maintained, snoring is reduced or prevented, and the individual can have uninterrupted, restful sleep.

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