Restorative Sleep

Laser + Holistic Dental is a firm believer in the importance of restorative sleep – for wellbeing, detoxification and overall energy levels. Dentists are in the ideal situation to help diagnose dysfunctional breathing and sleep disordered breathing, which is why we work in conjunction with sleep scientists and medical specialists to offer snoring and sleep apnoea treatments.

Please use the links below to navigate through the information on this important topic.

The Importance Of Sleep
Humans, like all animals, need restorative sleep, along with food, water and oxygen, to survive. For humans sleep is a vital indicator of overall health and well-being. We spend up to one-third of our lives asleep, and the overall state of our “sleep health” remains an essential question throughout our lifespan. Many sleep disorders can be managed successfully non-surgically and without the need for using stimulants, sedatives and antidepressants as psychological and physiological crutches to help you get through another day.

“Less than 5% of people breathe efficiently i.e. through the nose at about 8-12 times per minute”

Our approach at Laser + Holistic Dental recognises and acts upon dysfunctional breathing, which often stems from dental problems such as underdeveloped jaw bones or crowding of the teeth. There are a variety of orthodontic conditions that have a massive effect on how you breathe, which can consequently impact on your everyday life on multiple levels. Less than 5% of people breathe efficiently i.e. through the nose at about 8-12 times per minute.1 , 1A Mouth breathing leads to decreased oxygen levels in the blood and will often result in narrower upper and lower jaws causing dental crowding. Dysfunctional breathing is linked in with various sleep disorders including snoring, sleep apnoea and bruxism – all with large health ramifications.


sleep apnoea

An example of Obstructive Sleep Apnoea

Snoring is more than just an annoying noise – it actually is the soft palate vibrating indicating that the airway is not open properly. Snoring is a sign that you may be at risk of sleep apnoea where the tongue falls back in the throat and blocking your airway during sleep. This means there is decrease in oxygen reaching your cells and therefore an increase in pressure on the heart to pump oxygen around the body – what we call an ‘accumulated oxygen debt’. As such snoring and sleep apnoea are linked with higher rates of heart attacks and stroke.2 At Laser + Holistic Dental we treat sleep breathing disorders in conjunction with Respiratory and Sleep Medical specialists using a combination of non-surgical solutions such as orthodontics and oral appliances designed to enlarge the naso and oropharyngeal airways and the revolutionary Nightlase procedure.

“we treat sleep breathing disorders in conjunction with Respiratory and Sleep Medical specialists using a combination of non-surgical solutions such as orthodontics, oral appliances and the revolutionary Nightlase procedure”

From children’s stories we all know of the the legendary healing powers of having a deep, long sleep – awakening transformed and re-energized to live another bright new day. As we are at our most vulnerable whilst asleep – it can be opportunity for expression of intimacy that can enrich our relationships. However, one of the most common causes for discord in relationships is from sleep breathing disorders such as snoring and obstructive sleep apnoea. These conditions cause fragmented sleep patterns and reduced oxygenation resulting in mood disorders, low daytime energy levels and can impact on libido.

Quality sleep is critical for cognitive function, alertness, problem solving, creativity and memory, thus ensuring optimal school and work performance and being fully engaged during social and work interpersonal interactions. The quantity of sleep experienced each night is also critical for determining what type of day you are going to experience. Lack of sleep does take its toll. Whether the cause is lifestyle choices, work and/or parenting duties or physiological dysfunction. Depriving yourself of restorative sleep can prove harmful. One of the first symptoms of sleep deprivation in humans is a disordering of thought and bursts of irrationality. Beyond 24 hours of deprivation people suffer huge drops in cognitive functions like accurate memory, coherent speech, and social competence – eventually suffering hallucinations and a total break with reality.

According to a 2000 study published in the British Medical Journal, researchers in Australia and New Zealand reported that sleep deprivation can have some of the same hazardous effects as being drunk.3 The study found that people who drove after being awake for 17–19 hours performed worse than those with a blood alcohol level of .05 percent, which is the legal limit for drink driving in most western nations.3 A 2004 study also found medical residents with less than four hours of sleep a night made more than twice as many errors as residents who slept for more than seven hours a night, an especially alarming trend given that less than 11% of surveyed residents were sleeping more than seven hours a night.4 It is imperative that people with positions of responsibility, ensure that have sound sleep so they can make sound decisions.

The National Sleep Foundation has provided these scientifically grounded guidelines on the amount of sleep we need each night to improve the sleep health of the millions of individuals and parents.5 Failure to heed these recommendations will result in an accumulated “sleep debt” which will always have its moment of reckoning compounding on a poor quality of life and contributing to the onset of diseases.

Age Recommended May be appropriate Not recommended

0-3 months


14 to 17 hours 11 to 13 hours

18 to 19 hours

Less than 11 hours

More than 19 hours


4-11 months


12 to 15 hours 10 to 11 hours

16 to 18 hours

Less than 10 hours

More than 18 hours


1-2 years


11 to 14 hours 9 to 10 hours

15 to 16 hours

Less than 9 hours

More than 16 hours


3-5 years


10 to 13 hours 8 to 9 hours

14 hours

Less than 8 hours

More than 14 hours

School-aged Children

6-13 years


9 to 11 hours 7 to 8 hours

12 hours

Less than 7 hours

More than 12 hours


14-17 years


8 to 10 hours 7 hours

11 hours

Less than 7 hours

More than 11 hours

Young Adults

18-25 years


7 to 9 hours 6 hours

10 to 11 hours

Less than 6 hours

More than 11 hours


26-64 years


7 to 9 hours 6 hours

10 hours

Less than 6 hours

More than 10 hours

Older Adults

≥ 65 years


7 to 8 hours 5 to 6 hours

9 hours

Less than 5 hours

More than 9 hours

Source: National Sleep Foundation Recommends New Sleep Times

Sleep Disruptors
Our modern culture with its 24/7 lifestyle is so alienated from our natural biological drives of sleeping, waking, eating, playing and mating. The inventions of artificial lighting, communication networks and fast transport has created a modern world disrupting our primal circardian rhythms leading to confusion of basic physiological processes. This can manifest as the bewildering, overwhelming sense of being “stressed out” – not knowing where you are, who you are with, what time it is and what you should be doing. All too often, as has become customary in our society, the use of many pharmaceutical agents are deployed ignoring basic common sense to respect natural forces. Many chemicals are readily available to be used to manipulate our levels of energy, alertness, mood, libido and sleep because of our dysfunctional lifestyles.Common chemical agents such as caffeine, alcohol and nicotine can all have significant impacts on the quality of sleep. Caffeine is one of the most widely consumed psychoactive substances and it has profound sleep-disruptive effects taking up to 20 hours to be metabolized. Caffeine clearly enhances alertness and performance to compensate for sleep deprivation. The evidence indicates that caffeine, rather then enhancing performance, is merely restoring performance degraded by sleepiness.6 The habitual use of alcohol to help oneself ‘unwind” and relax is well documented across cultures worldwide. Historically, some form of fermented beverage like mead, beer, wine or cider, has had considerable social, religious and medical significance with the earliest finding of usage dating back to the Neolithic Stone Age.7 Modern research has found that whilst alcohol does allow people to fall asleep quicker and sleep more deeply for a while, it reduces rapid eye movement (REM) sleep – the more mentally restorative type of sleep. Alcohol helps induce sleep, but overall it disruptive to high quality sleep8. Alcohol also suppresses breathing and can precipitate sleep apnoea.8

Cigarette smoking also plays a significant role in causing sleep disorders.9 Nicotine is a strong stimulant and interferes with neurotransmitters affecting sleep and mood. Cigarette smokers are more at risk of insomnia, depression, daytime tiredness in addition to the respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. The chemicals of smoke causes airway irritation and enlargens the throat tissues which will worsen snoring and obstruct the airway reducing night time oxygenation levels.9

Both illicit recreational and prescribed drugs have negative effects on quality of sleep by reducing the restorative properties and duration of the REM phase of sleep. Dreaming is suppressed because of drugging effects on the brain and the cycles and stages of the quality of sleep are disrupted which carries over into daytime tiredness and loss of cognitive function. This might explain why there is a tendency to increase the dose of antidepressants over time as the undiagnosed underlying sleep disorder worsens.10

The Public document “Wake Up Australia: the value of healthy sleep” estimated that over 1.2 million Australians experience sleep disorders, with costs to the community in excess of of $10.3 billion per year.11 Not being able to sleep well, feeling anxious, depressed and low energy levels, is a frequent presentation in every medical general practitioners office. Unfortunately, the quick pharmaceutical “solution” is offered such as a prescription for tranquilizers, sedatives, sleep medication and antidepressants rather than seeking to identify the true cause for the daytime fatigue and restless sleep by referring for a sleep study which will analyze the both quantity and quality of sleep. Many medicated patients will suffer drug induced sleep disorders as a direct side effect of their medication for a non-sleep related health condition, and so the patient will then be prescribed another drug to “deal” with side effect, however many of the medications commonly prescribed to help improve sleep will ironically worsen the inherent sleep disorder by reducing REM phase sleep and reducing muscle tone of the airway resulting is more frequent apnoeic events. A vicious cycle of deteriorating sleep and increased adverse drug interactions develops over time.12

A frequently overlooked cause for sleep disturbances is neurotoxicity. Many epidemiological studies show that exposure to heavy metals such as cadmium, lead, manganese and mercury, can cause serious functional disability including associated sleep disorders. Historical records describe the consistent features of mercurialism suffered of mercury miners in Europe as changes in some personality traits, such as bad temper, irritability and sadness, insominia, restless sleep, terrible dreams with nightmares, sleep terrors, and strange, periodic contractile movements of the legs.13 Mercury concentrates in the pineal gland of the brain – the organ thought to take part in regulating the rhythm of sleep and wakefulness. Mercury may affect sleep because it can inhibit the uptake of neurotransmitters like glutamate, reduces serotonin levels, trytophan, and melatonin levels, increases the production of free radicals, and enhances the dopaminergic effect in central Nervous System, which otherwise leads to cortical hyperexcitability and changes in the control of locomotor function, emotions, and behaviour.13 European scientist Kobal, documented that within months of eliminating ongoing exposure to mercury, the health improvement of miners, including their pronounced sleep disorders greatly reduced. However, the miners’ symptoms of terrible dreams periodic leg movements were much more obstinate and disappeared very slowly in association with other symptoms and clinical signs of mercurialism.14