At Manse Medical, we treat a variety of breathing-related sleep disorders. If you have been diagnosed with a breathing-related sleep disorder, it is important to get treated as soon as possible. That way, you can address your symptoms before they become severe and lead to further complications.
In this article, we will explore the different types of breathing-related sleep disorders and the various treatment options available to manage them. Whether you’re struggling with sleep apnoea, snoring, or another breathing-related sleep disorder, this article will provide you with the information you need to find effective treatment and get a better night’s rest.
What are breathing-related sleep disorders?
Breathing-related sleep disorders are a group of conditions that affect a person’s ability to breathe properly during sleep. They can cause interrupted breathing, shallow breathing, or a complete stop in breathing, which can lead to a decrease in oxygen levels in the body. This can result in several symptoms, such as loud snoring, gasping or choking during sleep, excessive daytime sleepiness, and difficulty concentrating.
Examples of breathing-related sleep disorders include;
Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA)
OSA occurs when the muscles at the back of the throat fail to keep the airway open during sleep, causing brief pauses in breathing.
Central sleep apnoea (CSA)
CSA occurs when the brain fails to signal the muscles to breathe, resulting in interrupted breathing during sleep.
Snoring is a loud, rumbling sound that occurs when the airway is partially blocked during sleep.
Upper airway resistance syndrome (UARS)
UARS occurs when there is resistance to the flow of air in the upper airway during sleep, leading to shallow breathing and interrupted sleep.
What are the complications associated with breathing-related sleep disorders?
Breathing-related sleep disorders can lead to several complications if left untreated, including;
High blood pressure
Breathing-related sleep disorders can cause repeated drops in oxygen levels during sleep, which can increase blood pressure and put a strain on the heart and cardiovascular system.
Sleep apnoea has been linked to an increased risk of several cardiovascular diseases, including heart attack, stroke, and heart failure.
Type 2 diabetes
Breathing-related sleep disorders have been linked to insulin resistance and glucose intolerance, which can increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Weight gain and obesity
Poor sleep quality and interrupted sleep can disrupt the hormones that regulate appetite and metabolism, leading to weight gain and obesity.
Depression and anxiety
Breathing-related sleep disorders can lead to feelings of fatigue, irritability, and mood changes, which can contribute to depression and anxiety.
Decreased quality of life
The symptoms of breathing-related sleep disorders, such as excessive daytime sleepiness, can interfere with daily activities, work, and social relationships, leading to a decreased quality of life.
What are the symptoms of breathing-related sleep disorders?
Breathing-related sleep disorders can cause a range of symptoms, including;
- Loud snoring, a common symptom of breathing-related sleep disorders, especially obstructive sleep apnoea.
- Gasping or choking during sleep, which can occur when breathing is interrupted during sleep, and the body wakes up to restore normal breathing.
- Excessive daytime sleepiness, as breathing-related sleep disorders can cause fragmented sleep and reduced oxygen levels, leading to daytime fatigue.
- Morning headaches, caused by a decrease in oxygen levels during sleep.
- Difficulty concentrating, because poor sleep quality can affect cognitive function and make it difficult to concentrate during the day.
- Irritability and mood changes
- Restless sleep and frequent awakenings during the night.
- Dry mouth or sore throat, which can be a result of snoring or mouth breathing during sleep.
- Insomnia, which can occur when breathing-related sleep disorders cause difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep.
Treatment options for breathing-related sleep disorders
Manse Medical provides pathways for multiple treatment options for breathing-related sleep disorders, including;
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure is a medical treatment for breathing-related sleep disorders, particularly for obstructive sleep apnoea. CPAP involves wearing a mask over the nose and/or mouth during sleep, which delivers a continuous stream of air at a gentle pressure to keep the airway open and prevent interruptions in breathing.
CPAP therapy helps to prevent the collapse of the airway during sleep by maintaining a positive pressure that keeps the airway open. By keeping the airway open, CPAP therapy allows for normal breathing patterns, prevents snoring and reduces the number of breathing pauses that occur during sleep.
We will typically recommend the use of CPAP therapy after a sleep study has diagnosed a breathing-related sleep disorder. We will also work with the patient to choose the appropriate mask and machine settings for their individual needs. Regular follow-up visits with a healthcare professional are important to ensure that CPAP therapy is working effectively and to make any necessary adjustments.
Mandibular Advancement Splints (MAS)
Mandibular advancement splints are oral devices that are used to treat breathing-related sleep disorders. These devices are custom-made to fit a patient’s teeth and work by repositioning the lower jaw slightly forward, which helps to keep the airway open during sleep and prevent breathing interruptions.
The MAS device consists of two dental splints that fit over the upper and lower teeth, connected by a hinge that allows the lower jaw to be gradually advanced forward. The device is worn during sleep and is adjusted to the optimal position to improve breathing and reduce symptoms.
MAS devices have been shown to be an effective treatment option for mild to moderate cases of OSA and snoring. They are often preferred by patients who cannot tolerate CPAP therapy, which is a more invasive treatment.
MAS devices are considered safe and well-tolerated, although some patients may experience side effects such as jaw pain, teeth shifting, or bite changes. It is important to work closely with a healthcare professional to ensure that the MAS device is fitted properly and adjusted to the appropriate position for optimal effectiveness and comfort.
Lifestyle changes for breathing-related sleep disorders
In addition to the treatments listed above, there are also lifestyle changes that patients can make to help manage their breathing-related sleep disorders, including;
Losing weight can help to reduce the amount of soft tissue in the mouth and throat, which can improve airflow and reduce the severity of OSA. Additionally, weight loss can improve overall health and reduce the risk of developing other conditions that can contribute to sleep disorders, such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
It is important to note that weight loss may not be a sufficient treatment for all cases of OSA, particularly in cases where other factors, such as anatomy or genetics, contribute to the condition. We can conduct a sleep study to determine the underlying causes of sleep disorders and recommend an appropriate treatment plan.
Regular exercise can be beneficial for individuals with breathing-related sleep disorders, as it can help to improve overall health and reduce symptoms.
Exercise can help with weight loss, as well as strengthening the muscles that support the airway, including the tongue, throat, and jaw muscles. Strengthening these muscles can help to prevent airway collapse during sleep and reduce the occurrence of breathing interruptions. It has also been shown to improve sleep duration and quality, which can help to reduce the number of breathing interruptions during sleep and improve overall sleep efficiency.
It is important to speak with a healthcare professional before starting an exercise program, especially if you have a breathing-related sleep disorder. A healthcare professional can help to determine the appropriate exercise regimen and monitor your progress to ensure that it is safe and effective.
Quitting smoking can have several benefits for individuals with breathing-related sleep disorders.
These include reduced inflammation in the airways, less obstructions such as the excess mucus production associated with smoking, an increase in oxygen levels in the blood, and lower risk factors for several health conditions that can worsen breathing-related sleep disorders, such as cardiovascular disease and lung disease.
There are several resources and support systems available to help individuals quit smoking, such as nicotine replacement therapy, support groups, and counseling. A healthcare professional can provide guidance and resources to help individuals quit smoking and improve their overall health and well-being.
Avoiding alcohol and sedatives
Avoiding alcohol and sedatives can be an important part of a comprehensive treatment plan for breathing-related sleep disorders.
Alcohol and sedatives can cause muscle relaxation in the throat and tongue, which can contribute to airway obstruction and breathing interruptions during sleep. They can also disrupt the quality of sleep, leading to more frequent awakenings and reduced oxygen levels, which can worsen breathing-related sleep disorders.
In severe cases, they can also cause central sleep apnoea, which is a type of breathing-related sleep disorder that occurs when the brain fails to signal the muscles to breathe properly during sleep.
Healthcare professionals may recommend avoiding these substances altogether or reducing their consumption, depending on the severity of the condition and individual circumstances.
How do you diagnose breathing-related sleep disorders?
To diagnose breathing-related sleep disorders, we employ a range of sleep tests, such as;
- Attended level-1 sleep studies, where you will be admitted to either a sleep clinic or a hospital, and sleep technologists monitor you throughout the entire night to ensure a comprehensive collection of data and your well being.
- Home sleep tests, where you are provided with equipment to use in your home to monitor your sleep, with the data collected being downloaded and sent to Manse Medical’s Sleep Physicians for analysis.
What kinds of sleep studies are there?
Different kinds of sleep studies include;
- Polysomnography, which is conducted overnight in a sleep centre or hospital to monitor the patient’s brain, breathing and muscle activity throughout the stages of their sleep to identify any disturbances caused by their sleep disorder.
- Multiple sleep latency test, where the patient undertakes several naps while connected to sensors that identify when they enter REM sleep, to determine how long it takes for a patient to fall asleep over a series of naps.
- CPAP titration, which is used to determine a patient’s eligibility for CPAP treatment through the use and close monitoring of a CPAP machine with the patient.
- Split night study, which combines a polysomnography and a CPAP titration in a single night for a patient; both diagnosing their sleep disorder and asserting their eligibility for CPAP treatment.
- Maintenance of wakefulness test, which determines the patient’s ability to stay awake for an extended period of time in a dimly lit and quiet environment.
Where can I go for effective breathing-related sleep disorders treatment?
At Manse Medical, we provide both high quality diagnosis and treatment for respiratory and sleep disorders such as breathing-related sleep disorders. Book your appointment online by selecting your preferred clinic and choose from the list of our available specialists.