“As women enter menopause and estrogen levels drop off they may experience unexpected symptoms like fatigue, daytime sleepiness, unexplained weight gain, chronic neck and shoulder pain and grinding of the teeth,” says Dr. Sharona Dayan, DDS, DMSc, a board certified periodontist. “These are all signs and symptoms of Sleep Disordered Breathing, SDO.”
Here’s what happens when you have SDO: “Estrogen keeps the muscles of the airway tight and as the levels drop off the muscles become looser and the tongue can fall back into the throat blocking oxygen flow. The brain then has an immediate microarousal and signals the body to correct the oxygen situation. These microarousals may not be long enough to wake the person up, but just long enough to go from deep restorative sleep to light unrefreshed sleep.”
You then grind your teeth because it’s your “body’s compensation to open the airway and increase blood flow…that delivers oxygen to the brain.” You might also sleep on your side (causing a stiff neck or shoulder) or undergo chronic stress (from lack of sleep) without even knowing why.
Recommendation: “If a person turns 50 and begins to notice these symptoms it’s time to get the sleep and airway checked out by an airway-focused dentist who can address tongue posturing and tongue space for a multitude of health benefits,” says Dr. Dayan.