Have you been worried about your sleep? Do you have trouble falling asleep, or wake up repeatedly during the night? You know you’ve been in bed for 7 or 8 hours, but you still feel exhausted in the morning and struggle to get through your day. These are signs of sleep disturbances, and you may have sleep apnea.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is more common than you think, and it affects millions of Americans. Sleep apnea can range from mild sleep disturbances to major sleep disruption, and without treatment you could be facing a lifetime of exhaustion. Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that affects your ability to breathe at night. The muscles in your throat relax during sleep, blocking your airway for a moment. Your brain senses that you’re not able to breathe, and wakes you up briefly to tighten the muscles in your throat. This can happen hundreds of times in one night, disrupting your sleep cycles, and preventing you from getting the sleep you need.
Standard Treatment for Sleep Apnea
If your sleep apnea is mild, the most common treatment is to make adjustments to your sleep patterns and lifestyle. Losing weight can reduce sleep apnea, and avoiding alcohol before bed will increase your chances of having a good night’s sleep. It’s recommended that you avoid sleeping on your back, but rather sleep on your side since this improves breathing and airflow.
The most common treatment that’s often used for sleep apnea is the use of a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. When you go to bed, you place a mask over your mouth and nose, and the machine keeps a steady flow of air passing through your upper lungs so that the upper airway won’t close and you’ll be able to sleep peacefully through the entire night. With uninterrupted sleep, you’ll have complete sleep cycles, and will wake up feeling refreshed and well rested.
While less common than the CPAP machine, another standard treatment for sleep apnea is oral pressure therapy. Rather than being fitted with a mask, only a mouthpiece is used. It’s attached to a small machine that uses a light vacuum to reposition the tongue during the night to keep the airway open.
Latest Treatments for Sleep Apnea
Along with the tried and true treatment methods most commonly used for sleep apnea such as changing the sleeping position and using a CPAP machine, researchers are always looking for new ways to treatment sleep disorders.
Hypoglussus Nerve Stimulation: One of the latest treatments for sleep apnea is hypoglossus nerve stimulation (HNS). This was only approved by the FDA in 2014, and it’s a revolutionary treatment. HNS involves a brief surgery, where a small device is implanted under the skin on the chest. The patient can turn this device off and on, and it monitors breathing patterns and stimulates the nerves that keep the airway open, allowing you to breathe normally throughout the night.
Expiratory Positive Airway Pressure: Another new treatment for sleep apnea is the expiratory positive airway pressure (EPAP) system. Rather than placing a mask over you nose and mouth, as with the CPAP machine, the EPAP system uses small adhesive valves over the nose. The valves open with each inhale, and with each exhale, the air is directed into small channels, creating air pressure in the upper throat, and keeping the airway unobstructed.
Getting a Good Night’s Sleep
If you have sleep apnea, it’s affecting not only your nights but also your days. When you’re unable to get the sleep that you need, you’ll experience fatigue during the day, feel drowsy at work, and struggle to concentrate on tasks. You might find yourself drifting off behind the wheel, and jeopardizing the safety of both yourself and your loved ones. With lack of sleep comes increased irritability and moodiness, and an higher risk of depression.
If you’ve been struggling to get a good night’s rest, it’s time to prioritize your sleep. Visit us today at Sound Sleep Medical to explore your options, and find out if you have sleep apnea. We’ll discuss old and new treatment methods, and work with you to find the perfect solution that will have you sleeping soundly every night.