Sleep is an integral part of our lives; without it, we would not be able to function properly. Unfortunately, many people suffer from sleep disorders, including sleep apnea. Roughly 24 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea. This can result in restless nights and fatigue during the day and lead to serious health problems.
At Foley and Le Oral Surgery, we know that sleep is important to our overall health, which is why we are dedicated to helping you get a good night’s sleep. We offer specific surgical treatments for sleep apnea that can help you get the rest you need and improve your overall health.
If you need sleep apnea treatments or maxillofacial procedures, we want to be your oral surgeons in Boulder, CO, Broomfield, CO, Longmont, CO, Lafayette, CO, and Louisville, CO. To schedule an appointment, call (303) 444-2255. We are located at 1420 28th Street, Suite 100, Boulder, CO.
The Importance of Sleep
We know that sleep is important, but what exactly happens when we sleep? Sleep is a natural process that allows our bodies to rest and rejuvenate. It is divided into two main types: REM (rapid eye movement) and NREM (non-REM). During REM sleep, our brains are very active, and we dream. NREM sleep is composed of three stages: Stage I, Stage II, and Stage III. We cycle through REM and NREM several times throughout the night. Sleep helps to restore our energy and plays an important part in our memory, emotional processing, and healthy brain maintenance.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a disorder that disrupts this natural sleep process. It occurs when a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep. This can happen due to a blockage in the airway or a problem with the brain signals that control breathing. The results can include snoring, shallow breathing, interruption in breathing, and waking up repeatedly during the night.
Sleep apnea is classified as either obstructive or central.
Obstructive sleep apnea
- Most common
- Relaxation of the soft tissues surrounding the nose, mouth, and throat causes an impairment in normal breathing during sleep.
Central sleep apnea
- Less common
- The brain does not send the appropriate signals to the muscles responsible for normal breathing during sleep.
Apnea-Hypopnea Index (AHI)
The apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) measures the severity of sleep apnea. It is calculated by dividing the number of apneas (lack of breathing for 10 seconds or more) and hypopneas (shallow breathing for 10 seconds or more) per hour of sleep by the number of hours of sleep. AHI values less than five are considered normal, while values greater than 30 are considered severe.
Dangers of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)
OSA is a sleep disorder that causes disrupted sleep and low blood oxygen levels. When obstructive sleep apnea occurs, the tongue can press against the back of the throat, block the upper airway, and stop airflow. When the brain’s oxygen level drops low enough, the person begins to wake up, the throat blockage is cleared, and the flow of air resumes, usually with a loud gasp.
- These cycles of decreased oxygenation can lead to serious cardiovascular problems, including high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, and cardiomyopathy.
- Patients with OSA suffer from excessive daytime drowsiness, depression, and loss of concentration.
Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome
Upper airway resistance syndrome (UARS) is a sleep disorder similar to obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Both disorders involve disruptions in breathing during sleep. However, in UARS, the obstruction is partial and doesn’t completely block the airway.
Do I Have Sleep Apnea?
The first step is recognizing the symptoms. Do you suffer from morning headaches, restless sleep, irritability, learning difficulties, or feelings of excessive tiredness during the daytime? These can all be symptoms of sleep apnea.
The next step is a sleep study, which can be done in a sleep lab or at home with a portable monitor. A sleep study includes overnight monitoring of your breathing, heart rate, and brain waves. It can help to identify the type and severity of sleep apnea.
Non-Surgical Treatment Options
There are a few options available to treat mild OSA. Depending on the severity of your sleep apnea, your doctor may recommend the following:
- Sleep specialist and CPAP machine. A sleep specialist may recommend a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine for OSA. This machine delivers air through a mask that covers your nose and mouth. The air pressure is set at a level that keeps your airway from collapsing. Sleep apnea can only be treated by CPAP if a person can tolerate their device and consistently use it while sleeping.
- Oral Appliance. Your doctor may recommend a mouthpiece or other sleep appliance for mild to moderate OSA. These devices keep the airway open by bringing the lower jaw or tongue forward during sleep. appliances are less intrusive than CPAP machines and may be more comfortable for some people.
- Lifestyle changes. Your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, quitting smoking, and sleeping on your side. These changes can help to improve the function of your upper airway muscles and reduce snoring.
Surgical Treatment Options
Surgery is an option for people with severe sleep apnea who cannot tolerate CPAP or other sleep appliances. Surgery is also an option for people with OSA who have not had success with lifestyle changes or other treatments. Lastly, surgery is an option for patients with OSA who also have a skeletal and dental bite deformity. Please view the Jaw Surgery link to learn more about how jaw surgery can correct problems with your bite.Maxillomandibular advancement (MMA) is a type of surgery that moves the upper and lower jaws to open the airway by increasing the space behind the tongue. This surgery is often recommended for people with moderate to severe OSA. This procedure is done under general anesthesia in the hospital and will require one or two nights’ stay. Please contact our office to schedule a consultation.
Sleep Apnea Solutions in Boulder, CO
If you need a sleep apnea treatment consultation in Boulder, CO, please call our office at (303) 444-2255 to schedule an appointment. Dr.Foley and Dr.Le are board-certified oral and maxillofacial surgeons trained to treat sleep apnea. For all your oral and maxillofacial treatment needs, we are your oral surgeons in Boulder, CO, Longmont, CO, Broomfield, CO, Lafayette, CO, and Louisville, CO. We are located at 1420 28th Street, Suite 100, Boulder, CO.Call Us
Frequently Asked Questions
There is not one definitive answer to this question as sleep apnea can be caused by a variety of factors, both genetic and environmental. However, some studies have shown that sleep apnea may be more common in certain families, suggesting that there may be a genetic component to the condition.
While sleep apnea does not directly cause weight gain, it can contribute to weight gain in several ways. First, sleep apnea can lead to fatigue, making it difficult to exercise and make healthy choices during the day. Second, sleep apnea can increase appetite by disrupting hormones that control hunger and satiety.
Yes, it is possible to have sleep apnea without snoring. However, snoring is one of the most common symptoms of sleep apnea, so if you are not snoring but experiencing other symptoms, it is important to see a doctor for a diagnosis.
Sleep apnea can contribute to anxiety and depression. A sleep deficit makes it more difficult for the brain to manage stress, thereby exacerbating anxiety.
Some evidence suggests that sleep apnea may increase the risk of seizures. Sleep deprivation can increase the number, frequency, and duration of seizures. If you have epilepsy and think sleep apnea may be affecting your condition, it is important to see a doctor immediately for a diagnosis.