Sleep is vital to good health and well-being, however, restorative sleep can be difficult to achieve for the 18 million Americans diagnosed with sleep disorders. That number is considered low because many Americans either don’t know or don’t pursue treatment for potential sleep disorders. This means that sleep problems are widespread and can be caused by various factors.
Causes of Sleep Apnea
A common cause of poor sleep is snoring. Snoring is the noise created by the vibration of certain parts of the airway, usually the soft palate and uvula. The noise can interfere with sleep patterns of the person who snores and his or her loved ones, making deep restorative sleep virtually impossible. Another condition that prevents restorative sleep is sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is the cessation of normal breathing during the night. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is usually caused by collapse of the throat muscles during sleep. It can happen for short or long periods and many times per hour. Oxygen does not enter the individual’s bloodstream as it should. As his or her brain detects the lack of oxygen, it awakens the person to resume breathing. The brief waking moments are usually not remembered; however, they repeat throughout the night. The constant sleep-wake cycle, along with oxygen deprivation, prevents restful sleep from occurring.
Treatment for snoring and sleep apnea can be as simple as creating healthy habits such as losing weight, kicking the smoking habit, refraining from alcohol and sedative medications, or changing the sleep position to the side versus the back. In some cases these measures may not be effective, so further diagnosis requires a sleep study with a qualified physician specializing in sleep. Successful treatment of sleep apnea involves keeping the airway open either with a Constant Positive Airflow Pressure (CPAP) machine or with a custom designed and fitted oral appliance. There are advantages and disadvantages of each course of treatment. The CPAP machine may be cumbersome or difficult to tolerate. Lifestyle factors may influence treatment, too, particularly if the individual is a frequent traveler. In that situation, and in numerous others, Dr Emam would fabricate an oral appliance called the SUAD™ Device.