Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) causes an interruption in the patient’s airflow during sleep. If the muscles that hold the upper airway open during sleep relax too much, then the airway can collapse and close during sleep. The results is a temporary interruption in breathing, which can happen hundreds of times each night. The result is fragmented sleep and increased daytime sleepiness. The patient usually reports non-restorative sleep and excess fatigue and sleepiness. Self-awareness of quality sleep varies between patients. Some are not aware that they have a sleep disorder and have to be encouraged by family or friends to seek help. Others are so sleepy that they cannot perform their jobs and are at increased risk for car or industrial accidents because of excess sleepiness. Many drink extra caffeinated beverages to maintain wakefulness. In addition to excessive sleepiness and fatigue caused by OSA, it also places a strain on your heart and blood pressure, and can increase the risk of stroke if not treated. This is especially important in those with known heart disease, but also affects those who do not know that they have heart disease. Patients with sleep apnea who are treated live longer than similar patients with sleep apnea who decline and do not accept treatment. Treatment can be very effective. A Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) Unit is a bedside device which gently delivers air pressure through a face mask to the upper airway. The correct pressure acts like an air splint to prevent airway collapse during sleep. It also stops snoring. CPAP is the standard therapy for most patients. Some patients may need surgery of the upper airway (tonsillectomy) and/or nasal surgery if they have significant nasal blockage. Currently, there is no medication for treating OSA.
Snoring can not only disturb your sleep, but can also disturb your bed partner’s sleep. It is estimated that approximately 10 – 30% of adults snore to some degree. Loud snoring can be significant to you and may be a sign of a much more serious condition.
Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)
People may experience Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) differently. It is usually described as a “creepy, crawly” feeling in your legs, occurring while sitting or lying still in the evening, and relieved by walking. It can be very painful and can delay sleep onset. Extreme sleepiness during the day is the main symptom other than pain in your legs. It can be an inconvenience with travel, movies, concerts, or any other activity that requires you to sit for long periods of time. It can be inherited or the cause may not be obvious.
Periodic Limb Movement Disorders (PLMD)
Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMD) occurs after a person has gone to sleep. The person with this condition has no control over these movements and they can be disruptive to his or her bed partner. Patients with PLMD are usually not aware that they have a problem. They may suffer excessive sleepiness or have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. The cause is unclear.
Insomnia is best described as “difficulty in initiating or maintaining sleep, or both”. It affects all age groups, but in adults is more likely to affect women. Most adults will suffer with some degree of insomnia at some time in their life. Although most of us have experienced sleeplessness or insomnia, very few will seek advice. Stress is one of the main triggers for short term insomnia. If your insomnia last more than 3 weeks you need to seek medical attention.