What is Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea is when the airway collapses (or partially collapses) during sleep, blocking (or limiting) the flow of air to the lungs.
The person tries to continue to breathe, but the harder they try, the tighter the airway closes.
Eventually the brain “wakes up” the person to a lighter level of sleep and the person will reposition their jaw and tongue to open the airway—usually with a gasp or snort.
The sleeper will then usually start the whole process over again. This can happen hundreds of times per night!
Stages of Sleep
Obviously, being suffocated many times per hour will result in a less than restful sleep. Sleep is broken into four main stages:
- Stage One —Transition Sleep: This should account for roughly 5% of total sleep time.
- Stage Two—Light Sleep: This should account for about 45% of total sleep time.
- Stage Three—Deep Sleep: This is when the body heals itself and performs many important reparative functions. Ideally, this should account for 25% of total sleep time. People who have a lack of deep sleep tend to be physically tired.
REM—Rapid Eye Movement (REM) Sleep: This is where most of your memorable dreaming comes from for the night. REM should also account for about 25% of your sleep time. People that have a lack of REM sleep tend to feel mentally tired and have a difficult time concentrating.
It is crucial that we get the necessary amount of deep sleep and REM sleep so that we can live happy, healthy lives. Contact our sleep apnea clinic today! (208) 376-3600.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Linked Health Issues
Sleep Apnea is also considered a risk factor for several serious health problems, such as:
- High Blood Pressure
- Heart Attack
*Note that most insurance companies consider the treatment of snoring as a “cosmetic” issue, and therefore won’t cover the cost of treatment.
Affects Children Also
Sleep apnea also affects children. Usually this is due to the child having large tonsils that obstruct the airway; just like in adults, often snoring is a sign of an obstructed airway. Some of the problems common in children that have been linked to sleep apnea include:
- Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
- Mood disorders
- Bed wetting
- Problems learning
- Growth problems
To see if your child may be at risk, view the video of sleep apnea in children.
Affects Sleep Partner
Sleep apnea can also adversely affect the sleep of the bed partner of the person with sleep apnea. Please click the link to read a study done by the Mayo Clinic on the effect of sleep apnea and snoring on the bed partner.
How is Sleep Apnea Treated?
The quality of your sleep greatly affects your quality of life. The good news is that help is readily available from a sleep apnea clinic and usually doesn’t require medications. If you think you may have sleep apnea or you know someone who might, please ask us for a referral to a qualified sleep specialist in your area, or talk to your primary care doctor. Treating sleep apnea can add more life to your years and more years to your life.
Oral appliance therapy has become a widely used and accepted method of treating sleep disordered breathing. The gold standard therapy for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). Although CPAP is usually very effective in treating OSA, there are many patients who are not able to tolerate its use. If you have tried to use CPAP but have given up on using the therapy, an oral appliance may be for you. Contact CPC Idaho, your sleep apnea clinic, for a consultation.