What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a common disorder that can be very serious. It is estimated that 30 million adults in the U.S. have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Breathing stops or gets very shallow while sleeping, this shallow breathing is also known as hypoventilationpnea which is a potentially life-threatening disorder and will only get worse if left untreated. Sleep apnea may pause your breathing up to 20 to 30 times or more an hour.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Sleep Apnea?

Key signs and symptoms include:

  • Loud snoring, interrupted by pauses in breathing
  • Gasping or choking during sleep
  • Restless sleep
  • Excessive sleepiness or fatigue during the day
  • Large neck size (greater than 17" in men; greater than 16" in women)
  • Crowded airway
  • Grogginess and morning headaches
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Frequent urination at night
  • Poor judgment or concentration
  • Irritability
  • Memory Loss
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity

What are the Different Types of Sleep Apnea?

  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA): The most common type of sleep apnea caused by a narrowing of the airway, usually when the soft tissue in the back of the throat collapses during sleep. When the airway narrows, the amount of oxygen in your blood may drop. Normal breathing usually begins again with a loud snort or choking sound.
  • Central Sleep Apnea: The airway does not collapse; however, the brain fails to signal the muscles to breathe.
  • Mixed Apnea: Patient’s diagnosed with mixed apnea experience a combination of OSA and Central Sleep Apnea as defined above.

In all three types of sleep apnea, those who go untreated can experience repeated stops in breathing during their sleep, sometimes hundreds of times each night. As a result, sleep is extremely fragmented and of poor quality. Disturbed sleep throughout the night can cause sleepiness during the day. 

Why does sleep apnea occur?

1. Excessive Tissue - When you are asleep the tongue and other muscles in the throat relax. This floppy tissue can decrease the size of your airway. As a result, your airway closes and airflow stops periodically during sleep.

2. Weight - During sleep, excessive weight around the neck and chest can create a narrowing of the airway due to the weight of muscles relaxing on the throat and chest. If you have a large neck or are clinically overweight you may suffer from sleep apnea.

How is Sleep Apnea Treated?

Treatment for sleep apnea focuses on restoring regular breathing and relieving symptoms such as daytime sleepiness and loud snoring. Treatment Options include use of a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) mask while sleeping, use of an oral appliance (mouthpiece), or surgery.

Treatment of sleep apnea may also help associated medical problems, such as high blood pressure, and may reduce your risk for heart attack and stroke.

What Can I Do If My CPAP/BIPAP/Mask is Not Working Well?

Are you having trouble getting used to the CPAP/BIPAP therapy your doctor prescribed?  Graham Sleep Disorders Clinic may have a solution to help you. We now offer a daytime procedure called PAP-Nap.  We all know the importance of wearing PAP (Positive Airway Pressure) for better sleep and overall health but sometimes the mask just doesn’t feel right, or the air is too much, or just getting used to it is difficult. A PAP-Nap is a daytime procedure offered to help clients get more acclimated to wearing their prescribed therapy by working one on one with a sleep technologist.

What Can I Expect During a Pap-Nap?

The Certified Sleep Technologist works with patients by using techniques such as desensitization, visualization, mask fitting, pressure point adjustments, and sleep hygiene. In addition, the technologist will provide education and answer all of your questions. 

The session will take place in the early afternoon. We ask that you allow 1-4 hours for the session with sessions beginning at 1:00 P.M.

During this time you will be using your own mask, or possibly be fit with a new one. Our Certified Technologist will observe you while you are taking a brief nap (1-2 hours). The Technologist will look for problems associated with the proper use of PAP therapy and the fit of your mask. There are a few sensors that must be used during the nap to ensure proper breathing with PAP use however, there are far less used as compared to a full night sleep study.

How Do I Make an Appointment?

You will need a written order/prescription from your physician requesting PAP-Nap procedure. The Graham Hospital Scheduling Department will work with you to schedule an afternoon appointment time that is convenient for you.  

Our goal is to ensure the PAP-Nap is a relaxing and informative experience. We look forward to working together so you can “wake up refreshed.”