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Sleep Disorders

Sleep Apnea

50-70 million adults in the United States have a sleep disorder, according to the American Sleep Association. Sleep apnea is more common than many people realize – more than 25 million US adults have this debilitating disorder. The Sound Sleep Health provider team offers expert diagnosis and a variety of treatment options for sleep apnea in their two offices in Kirkland and Seattle, Washington. If you’re experiencing the symptoms of sleep apnea, such as non-restful sleep and loud snoring, call or book online to visit the Sound Sleep Health team and get to the root of your sleep problem.

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What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that can be life-threatening in more severe cases. It involves breathing that repeatedly stops and starts during your sleep.

Sleep apnea often stops you from reaching the deeper phases of your sleep cycle. There are two main types of sleep apnea, and it can affect people of all ages, including children.

Obstructive sleep apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most common sleep breathing disorder and involves the temporary relaxation of muscles in your throat, such as your soft palate and tongue, during sleep. This relaxation narrows or closes your airway, inhibiting breathing. A bed partner can sometimes detect obstructive apnea by observing recurrent pauses in breathing, sometimes ended with a gasp or snort.

When you can’t obtain adequate air supply, it can lower the level of oxygen in your blood. Your brain detects this inability to breathe and triggers an autonomic (“fight or flight”) response, causing airway muscles to tense up and reopening the airway. On rare occasions, this “fight or flight” response may actually wake you from your sleep.

Apnea events vary widely in how long or how often they occur, anywhere from once every few hours to many times per hour, and anywhere from a few seconds to over a minute in duration. The severity of the disorder depends on how often and how pronounced the events tend to be.

Central sleep apnea

Central sleep apnea (CSA) happens when your brain doesn’t communicate properly with the muscles that control your breathing. It is much less common than OSA and most often occurs in association with CPAP treatment of OSA (see complex sleep apnea syndrome below). In rare cases, CSA occurs in conjunction with another serious health condition, such as congestive heart failure, Chiari malformation, MS or a brain tumor.

Complex sleep apnea syndrome

Complex sleep apnea syndrome happens when you have both central sleep apnea and obstructive sleep apnea. This condition often arises secondary to positive pressure (CPAP) therapy for obstructive sleep apnea.

If you feel tired even after a full night of sleep, and if you snore loudly, you might have sleep apnea.

What are the symptoms of sleep apnea?

Symptoms may include:

  • Snoring
  • Morning fatigue or drowsiness
  • Morning headache
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Dry mouth
  • Sore throat
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Awakening with shortness of breath

What are some risk factors for sleep apnea?

  • Aging
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • A narrowed airway
  • Alcohol and sedatives
  • Nasal congestion and allergies
  • Circumference of the neck — people with thicker necks often have narrower airways
  • Certain facial structures, including long narrow face with long jawline

How is sleep apnea diagnosed?

The Sound Sleep Health team provide a range of diagnostic testing, including in-home testing, which many people prefer over coming to a sleep lab.

The Sound Sleep Health team have a unique in-home testing process that typically takes place over several nights. This process aims to understand what kind of apnea you have and how your breathing may affect your sleep architecture and quality.

If you or your loved one experience these symptoms of sleep apnea, call or book your appointment online.