Snoring and Sleep Apnea Treatment
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that affects more than 200,000 people each year. While asleep, a person’s airway constricts, making it difficult for them to breathe. As they’re deprived of oxygen, they gasp or choke, which reopens their airway and allows them to breathe again. This process repeats hundreds of times throughout the course of a night and generally, a person remains asleep, with no knowledge of what’s happening.
Sleep apnea is often characterized by loud snoring, choking or gasping while asleep, and labored breathing throughout the night. People with sleep apnea often sleep through the night, but wake feeling groggy, unrested or sluggish—feelings that can follow them through the day. Sleep apnea and lack of restful sleep are also linked to depression, mood swings, irritability and weight gain.
While it’s possible for anyone to suffer from sleep apnea, some individuals are more at-risk than others. Risk of sleep apnea increases the older you get and with certain lifestyle choices, such as smoking. Overweight individuals are significantly more likely to experience sleep apnea.
The Stages of Sleep
There are five stages of sleep—awake, light sleep, intermediate sleep, deep sleep and REM sleep. The most important stage is REM sleep, which is not only where we dream, but where our brain is able to rest and recuperate. A person usually goes through each stage on their way to REM sleep; however, someone suffering from sleep apnea will restart the cycle over and over again before they get there.
Sufferers of sleep apnea fail to get restful sleep because they’re unable to reach REM. The constant stopping and starting of their breathing wakes their brain up without consciously waking them up. As a result, you might feel like you sleep through the whole night when in reality, your brain is jolted awake dozens or even hundreds of times!
The key to addressing sleep apnea and getting restful sleep comes from improved sleep breathing, which allows a person to naturally progress through each stage of sleep until they hit REM.
Sleep Apnea Treatment Center
There are several methods of treatment to help sufferers of sleep apnea overcome their condition. The right course of action depends on the type of sleep apnea you have: obstructive, central or mixed. In any case, lifestyle changes and bedtime rituals are often part of the recovery process.
The most prevalent treatment for sleep apnea is a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. This device keeps airflow consistent throughout the night, so the brain continues to get oxygen. A CPAP machine prevents the “stop-start” cycle of breathing that disrupts a person’s sleep cycle.
For more serious cases of sleep apnea, outpatient surgery may be the best option. A tonsillectomy, adenoid removal or palatoplasty are all routine procedures that can improve otherwise obstructed airways, allowing a person to breathe comfortably while laying down at night.
CPAP machines can work for some, but many have found using them cumbersome. Please contact us to learn more about the use of oral appliances to treat sleep apnea. Dr. Prasanna is a proud member of the AASM and AADSM and has years of experience treating and solving the underlying conditions associated with Sleep Apnea and snoring.