If you’ve ever been told you snore, or suddenly stop breathing during your sleep, you may be experiencing obstructive sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a common disorder where a sleeper experience one or more pauses in breathing or shallow breaths because of excess skin blocking the airway the throat while they are asleep. These pauses can last anywhere from a couple seconds to more than 30 seconds. When normal breathing patterns are restored, the sleeper typically makes a loud snort or choking sound.
Obstructive sleep apnea affects over three million people in the U.S., and many people here in Central Iowa. Often times, sleep apnea goes undiagnosed because an overnight sleep study is required to make an accurate diagnosis. For those who have been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, the next steps may seem overwhelming. The doctors at Iowa Sleep will walk you through what you can expect next, including:
Many sleepers with OSA will be directed to begin using a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine while they sleep. This machine has a mask that is secured over the nose and mouth while sleeping to help provide pressure on the airways to allow air to travel easier in and out. If a CPAP machine is too disruptive, there are also oral devices that can be used to physically keep the airway open as well during sleep. If medically advised by a doctor, there are also options for surgeries to correct the airway, jaw and throat.
There are a many small lifestyle changes you can make to help temper the effects of OSA. Many individuals who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea are overweight, and even a slight loss of weight can help relieve throat constriction. Small changes to your diet and adjusting your caffeine intake throughout the day can also help make sleep easier at night.
When you sleep, there are a few changes you can make to your sleeping habits that can help your OSA. Instead of sleeping on your back, sleep on your side to keep your tongue from resting on the back on your throat, blocking your airway. To avoid rolling onto your back in the middle of the night, try sewing a tennis ball into the back of your nightshirt to keep you on your side.
If you or someone you know isn’t sleeping well at night, look for the tell-tale signs of sleep problems. Excess sleepiness, difficulty concentrating and memory loss are all key indicators you’re not sleeping well. Don’t let sleep continue to elude you each night. Learn more about the services offered at Iowa Sleep and when you’re ready, reach out to our doctors.