Do you feel lethargic or sleepy during the day? Do you find yourself needing frequent naps or struggling to stay awake when it’s not appropriate, but you’re not sure why? While there are a number of reasons this could be happening, one reason is a condition known as sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea affects an estimated 22 million Americans, approximately 80 percent of which with a condition known as obstructive sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the airway becomes blocked or obstructed when the patient is in the reclining position during sleep. When this happens, the patient can snore, and often stops and restarts breathing repeatedly throughout the night.
Because of this stopping and restarting of breathing, the patient may wake repeatedly without realizing or remembering they did so, and as a result, suffer from a waking condition known as hypersomnia. Hypersomnia occurs when the patient struggles to stay awake during the day.
If you are struggling to stay awake during the day, suffering from depression, or have other more severe symptoms such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, or Alzheimer’s disease, you could also have obstructive sleep apnea.
Thankfully there are steps you can take to help reduce or eliminate your hypersomnia. The first step is to be evaluated for sleep apnea by a sleep specialist. This can be done in a clinic, or it can be done at home using equipment provided by your doctor.
Once a proper diagnosis of sleep apnea is made, you can then seek treatment options. One popular option is the use of a machine called a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine, which fits over the face and uses a tube in the mouth to force air into the airway so it props open while you sleep. Unfortunately, many people find CPAP masks very uncomfortable, and as a result, often do not wear them. This of course renders CPAP therapy useless.
A better solution to CPAP therapy is a custom sleep orthotic that props the jaw open in such a way that the airway becomes unobstructed. Sleep orthotics are more comfortable for most users. This makes them more likely to be worn, and thus more effective than CPAP. They are also easier to clean and care for.
Sleep orthotics are available at Dr. Mingus’s office. To learn more about sleep apnea and your sleep orthotic options, contact Dr. Mingus’s office for more information.