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Sleep Apnea Rates Increasing Among Military Members

A startling new study has revealed that not everyone with Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) fits the typical bill for this sleep disorder. The study focused on military members, and found that obstructive sleep apnea rates increased in service members in the branches of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. These increases weren’t slight, either. In fact, over 14 years, between 2005 and 2009, the rates in which sleep apnea was diagnosed among servicepeople was 30-fold, with insomnia rates increasing 45-fold.

Sleep apnea is a sleep condition wherein the sleeper wakes repeatedly throughout the night due to irregularities in the breathing. These irregularities are caused by an obstruction to the airway, namely. In addition to snoring and a poor night’s sleep, sleep apnea can also worsen many medical conditions like diabetes, depression, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease and it may even cause stroke.

Obstructive sleep apnea is most commonly associated with older adults who are overweight or obese, but in the case of this study, most cases of increased sleep apnea occurred among higher ranking military officers who were over the age of 40 and in good health. They were also on active duty, and most were married.

This is a sharp contrast between the typical OSA demographic, and researchers aren’t sure why, but some hypothesize it could be related to PTSD.

Thankfully, there are ways to treat sleep apnea that you may not have considered.

CPAP Therapy: Short for continuos positive airway pressure therapy, CPAP therapy is used to force the airway open by blowing air into the airway, allowing you to breathe as you sleep. CPAP is the most frequently prescribed sleep apnea treatment, however it is often not used by patients because it requires the use of an awkward and often uncomfortable mask.

Sleep Orthotics: Sleep orthotics may not be as common, but they are generally better-tolerated than CPAP therapy, as they are custom fit to the patient’s individual mouth. Sleep orthotics position the airway open during sleep and fit comfortably into the mouth without the use of masks, tubing or machinery.

If you are interested in learning more about sleep orthotics, please contact Dr. Mingus for a consultation.