Insomnia and Sleep Apnea

Insomnia and Sleep Apnea
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Do you have difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, returning to sleep, or a combination thereof? Does your dentist notice that you have been grinding your teeth? Does your partner notice that you are a “chronic snorer?” If so, you may be experiencing insomnia due to obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

Sleep apnea is caused by muscles and soft fatty tissues relaxing during your sleep to the point where they collapse onto the upper airway and block the flow of oxygen through the body.

Some of the most common symptoms of sleep apnea include:

  • Awakening with dry throat or sore throat
  • Difficulty staying asleep or restless sleep
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness or fatigue
  • Frequent morning headaches
  • Irritability
  • Lack of energy
  • Occasionally waking up with a choking or gasping sensation
  • Poor memory
  • Recurrent awakenings throughout the night
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Snoring

Sleep is vital to the proper functioning of practically every other system in our bodies. Without adequate, restful sleep, you can be at a higher risk for developing other conditions, such as hypertension, obesity, depression, and anxiety, to name a few. Seeking prompt treatment for insomnia due to sleep apnea will not only help you sleep better sooner, but it may also help prevent the onset of these various health conditions.

Understanding the Types of Insomnia

The first step toward combating insomnia is to identify the type you are experiencing.

Acute insomnia occurs suddenly and briefly, lasting from one night to a few weeks, and is often due to a particular circumstance, such as an upcoming important or stressful event. Chronic insomnia, on the other hand, is when you have sleep trouble falling, staying, or returning to sleep at least three nights per week for at least three months straight.

Additionally, there are two types of insomnia: primary and secondary. Primary insomnia is not linked to any other health condition while secondary insomnia can be the result of another condition such as asthma, depression, arthritis, cancer, heartburn, pain, medication, or substance use. For example, in the instance of insomnia due to sleep apnea, you may be experiencing chronic, secondary insomnia.

Treatment

As mentioned above, we take pride in finding solutions for our patients to help them get a restful night’s sleep. We will work with you to understand your medical history, as well as any lifestyle habits and patterns that may be affecting your sleep.

The most common treatment option for sleep apnea is a CPAP or Continuous Positive Airway Pressure therapy machine. The CPAP machine keeps the airway open by forcing air into the body through flexible tubing. It does require you to wear a mask as you sleep. While this is an effective treatment option, not everyone can tolerate it.

For those needing alternative options, we often recommend oral appliance therapy. Oral appliance therapy uses devices that are similar to a mouthguard or retainer that are custom-made to the patient’s mouth to help realign the jaw, teeth, and tongue to prevent airway obstruction.

We may also recommend behavior changes, medication, therapy, and other health practices that may improve the likelihood of getting a good night’s rest. In extreme cases, surgery may be recommended to remove excess tissue that is collapsing onto the airway. However, surgery is typically only recommended once other treatment options have been exhausted or if non-surgical treatment options have proven ineffective for several months.

If you suspect you are suffering from insomnia, start a list of any and all symptoms you may be experiencing and bring them to the attention of your doctor. Insomnia due to an underlying cause such as sleep apnea may lead to other serious health complications and should be addressed promptly. For more information on insomnia and our treatment options or to schedule an appointment, please contact Dr. Jamila Battle today.

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