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Your Guide To

Sleep Apnea

Your Sleep Apnea Explainer

Do you wake up tired or with a migraine?

Do you face daytime sleepiness or struggle losing weight? Has your snoring been compared to “sawing logs?"

You could have an old mattress, be stressed, or feel the effects of aging. But you could also have sleep apnea, which prevents steady breathing when you sleep.

With so many sleep interruptions, it can be hard to determine why you aren’t sleeping well and that is where Total Snooze comes in. Consider us your sleep guides!

Sleep affects your overall health and mind, yet it is often overlooked. In fact, a condition called obstructive sleep apnea affects 25% of adults, and 80% of those sufferers go undiagnosed. 

Sleep apnea is a serious condition, which is why we guide you through doctor screenings and appointments to determine what’s going on with your sleep help and what options you have.

But first, feel free to dive into sleep apnea and what it is with our sleep apnea guide below:

What is sleep apnea?

There are two main types of sleep apnea sleeping disorder: obstructive and central sleep apnea. Both occur when an individual’s breathing becomes very shallow or stops for short durations while sleeping. 

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when a patient’s throat muscles relax and obstruct airflow, interrupting the natural breathing cycle. It affects 25% of adults, yet 80% of sufferers go undiagnosed.

Central sleep apnea is a condition in which the patient’s muscles do not receive the signals that monitor breathing movement.

These sleep disturbances can occur hundreds of times throughout a sleep cycle and may have implications on overall health.

Symptoms include loud, chronic snoring, waking up throughout the night (often choking or out of breath), restless sleep cycles, early morning headaches, daily fatigue, and difficulty falling or staying asleep.

Also, early recognition and treatment are crucial, as sleep apnea may be associated with irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, daytime sleepiness, and an increased risk of motor vehicle accidents.

Likewise, blood pressure, depression, GERD medications, and other medical conditions, including weight, may also contribute to a sleep apnea disorder.

What are sleep apnea symptoms?

Sleep apnea is diagnosed by a doctor after taking a sleep test; however, there are symptoms that you may notice and can use to assess your risk. These include:

  • Loud snoring
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Dozing off at work, while driving, or in front of the TV
  • Morning headaches
  • Waking up after a full night’s sleep feeling unrested
  • Dry mouth in the morning
  • Low energy or fatigue
  • Lack of motivation or loss of interest in hobbies or pastimes
  • Weight gain, excessive appetite, or inability to lose weight
  • Memory problems
  • Depression, irritability, or mood disorders
  • Loss of sexual interest or function
  • Choking or gasping during sleep (usually wakes you up)
  • High blood pressure that doesn’t respond to medication
  • Frequent nighttime urination

What are the dangers of sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a serious condition that can impact your entire body and mind. Complications related to sleep apnea may include:

  • Migraines
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart failure
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Kidney and liver disease
  • Low testosterone
  • Cancer
  • Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease and dementia
  • Depression, anxiety, and mood disorders

It can also contribute to traffic or workplace accidents, putting you further at risk. In fact, daytime sleepiness makes you 2.5 times more likely to cause a car accident, according to the American Academy of Sleep Science. You’re also two times more likely to cause a workplace accident.

Early detection is important to reducing risks, although treatment at any time should help relieve symptoms. Your doctor will have more information on your health and can answer specific questions related to your condition and care.

How do I Treat Sleep Apnea?

The type of sleep apnea you have will determine available treatment options. The most common treatment approaches are:

  • Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) uses forced air to keep the airway open and maintain the air supply.
  • Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT) involves wearing an appliance in your mouth during sleep. The device holds your jaw in a position to help keep your airway open.
 
If these treatments don’t work, you may need uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP), which is the surgery used to remove soft tissues at the back of your mouth and the top of your throat. UPPP might also involve the removal of tonsils and adenoids.
 

Aside from the medical treatments available, milder cases could be addressed simply by making lifestyle changes. These include losing weight (if you are overweight), exercising regularly, drinking alcohol moderately (and not drinking several hours before bedtime), quitting smoking, using a nasal decongestant or allergy medication, and not sleeping on your back.

How To Get Diagnosed

Only licensed medical professionals can diagnose and treat sleep apnea. You wouldn't trust your breathing to just anyone, so why trust your sleep breathing to those without qualifications?

What Is a Sleep Test

There are a few ways to test your sleep. We prefer the at-home method, where you can sleep in your own bed. Using a small device, vitals are sent to your doctor.

About OAT

Oral Appliance Therapy

Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT) is an alternate sleep treatment for conditions like sleep apnea. Smaller than a CPAP machine, the device looks similar to a mouthguard or large retainers and fits over your teeth, keeping your airway open and promoting uninterrupted sleep.

Many love OAT because the appliance is more discreet, easy to wear, easy to pack, and seamlessly integrates into your nightly routine. You can say “goodbye” to large CPAP machines that take up half your nightstand and hoses that keep you locked to one side of the bed.

Patients also appreciate that oral appliances are quiet and comfortable.

OAT is generally a sleep solution for mild to mid-cases of obstructive sleep apnea and should be used in consultation with licensed medical professionals, including a doctor who provides a diagnosis and makes subscriptions and a dentist who fits the appliance to your mouth

About CPAP

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure

A Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine is one of the most common treatments for sleep apnea and works for obstructive and central sleep apnea. It delivers continuous pressurized air through a hose or tubing attached to a mask that is worn while sleeping.

It is so common that many patients don’t realize there may be more comfortable options, depending on the severity of their sleep apnea.

There are three main types of CPAP machines including bi-level, auto, and adaptive servo-ventilation (ASV), and they come with different mask types, including a nasal, nasal pillow, and full mask.

Users should regularly clean and maintain parts. When possible and with your doctor’s permission, opt for a humidifier option to prevent dry mouth.

CPAP Vs OAT

What is the difference between CPAP and OAT devices?

CPAP machines can be used for obstructive and central sleep apnea, while OAT is generally used for central sleep apnea. Both help with sleep breathing and work to improve your sleep health. CPAP machines often have a love-hate relationship with its users. We are fans because of the positive health implications of breathing at night. But, when possible, we love OAT because it is smaller, less maintenance, more affordable, and easier to store, carry, and wear. Ultimately, the decision on which device and treatment plan to use is based on your sleep apnea and doctor’s prescription. Please always defer to a medical professional to ensure your safety and health.