Guest post by Alex Arrick

My dad struggled with sleep apnea for years all throughout his late 30s and 40s.

He used to walk into doctors’ offices and tell them “I think I have sleep apnea.” He was laughed out of the room on more than one occasion. This was the mid-2000s and the medical industry only thought overweight people could have sleep apnea (my dad has always been around 150 lbs). My dad had one of the first MMA surgeries in the country at Stanford, and it changed his life. If you want to read more about his story, he wrote about it extensively here.

For my family, it’s likely genetic. My dad has a narrow airway, compounded with chemical exposure at work, it can easily cause apneas to occur. For others, it can be a mixture of bad genetics, smoking, being overweight, or a myriad of other issues.

I solved my sleep apnea with a Somnomed device (specifically, the SomnoDent Avant) and a couple of other things. These strategies doubled my energy during the day. I thought I had low willpower before or was just a garbage human being. But once I put this small piece of plastic in my mouth at night, I became a better person (plus, a better husband, and father).

Some emotional things to cover first…

  1. You may be a low-energy bad person, but you may just have sleep apnea.
  2. It’s worth fixing. Every single damn penny.
  3. Life is too short to let fixable health problems destroy your marriage, your relationship with your kids, or your career.

Sleep Apnea can often be confused for other things

  1. Anxiety attacks – Some people wake up in a cold sweat with their heart beating fast. No, you probably weren’t dreaming about your job – You were suffocating!
  2. Insomnia – Sleep apnea prevented me from FALLING asleep. So I would do all these subconscious things to avoid going to bed. This resulted in a 3 am – 12-noon sleeping schedule on weekends and really crabby days when I was at the office at 8 a.m.
  3. Caffeine dependency – I used to drink coffee ALL day. Now I have about 1 cup in the morning. And I don’t even need it to perform at my best.
  4. Circadian rhythm disorders – I increased sunlight exposure in the morning to no avail. Circadian issues are different than apnea. Limiting blue light in the evening or wearing orange-tinted glasses won’t fix apnea.
  5. Acid reflux – Sleep apnea messes up the balance of air in your upper gut and can cause reflux.

How Somnomed Devices Work

Somnomed Devices are custom fitted to your teeth using 3d imaging or molds. They advance your lower jaw to prevent it from falling back, which would cause snoring at best, and apneas at worst. Basically, it keeps you breathing through your nose at night (which is the way you should be breathing all the time), and it keeps your mouth together.

3d imaging process (left), view of the SomnoDent Avant device (right)

I use 4 tactics to sleep every night. I NEVER sleep without these.

  1. Somnomed device
  2. BreatheRight Nose Strips ($20 for a box of 70 from Costco)
  3. Ear plugs
  4. An eye mask

How to get a Somnomed Device

  1. Go to a sleep clinic and get an at-home sleep study – This cost me $400 after insurance and I had it done at Vancouver Sleep Clinic in Vancouver, Washington.
  2. The sleep clinic will refer you to a local dentist who can make the device. I had one consultation, some email follow-up, and an appointment to take the 3d imaging of my teeth. (This cost $2500 as a one-time payment, and I would have paid more). I had mine fitted at Gillespie Dentistry in Vancouver, Washington.
  3. The device will arrive at the dentist and you’ll have a follow-up appointment. You’ll take it home and you can start using it immediately.

Tips for using the device

It took me about three nights to get used to having the device in my mouth. After that, I stopped salivating so much and was able to fall asleep like it was nothing. I had IMMEDIATE effects from using it. I slept soundly, woke up at 6 a.m. fully rested, and had dreams. I cried out of guilt that I hadn’t done this sooner.

My wife immediately noticed I was in a better mood and had more energy. It was undeniable.

My device came with 8 different strap sizes. I slowly increased to level 5, and I’ve been stable at that level. You start off at 0.

It’s really important that you use STRONG orthodontic rubber bands with this device. It helps keep your mouth together while allowing some flexibility. I use these from Amazon. If I use the device without the rubber bands, it doesn’t work.

How to know your Sleep Apnea is treated

  1. You have more energy during the day
  2. You have more vivid dreams. I had crazy vivid dreams for about six months. It was like my brain was catching up on dreaming.
  3. Fewer noticeable apnea episodes during the night. You might have the occasional one, but that’s OK.

How to keep your Somnomed clean

Use denture cleaner and a light-bristled toothbrush to keep the device clean. Let it air out. Rinse before using. Don’t let the dog eat it.

Also, brush and floss your teeth. That helps too. 🙂

What to do RIGHT NOW if you think you have sleep apnea

If you think you have sleep apnea, even the slightest suspicion, go to Costco or Walmart and get BreatheRight strips and see if they help. They help you breathe through your nose and can make a huge difference by themselves.

Another thing to try is mouth tape. I haven’t tried this personally, but I like the idea. If you’re like me, most of the benefit of the Somnomed is keeping my mouth closed at night. It’s an inexpensive thing to try.

Don’t wait, get a sleep study scheduled. If you’re worried about money, take out a loan. I’m serious. This may completely change your life. I would pay THOUSANDS each month if I had to. Life without sleep is too hard.

Sleep is for the strong. Go get fixed.

BONUS: Some sleep supplements that I like

I occasionally take supplements to help me sleep, but only a few nights per week. I’ve noticed better effects by cycling them and using these sparingly.

  1. Melatonin low-dose 300 micrograms from Life Extension
  2. Neuro-Mag from Life Extension
  3. Kava Tincture
  4. CBD Tinctures
  5. L-Theanine
  6. GABA
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