Do you have sleep apnea?


Snoring is caused when the muscles in your upper airway become so relaxed during sleep that the walls of your airway collapse towards each other when you inhale. When this happens, you have to work harder to inhale the usual amount of air which must then rush much more quickly through the narrowed opening. This rushing air causes the soft tissue in the airway to “flutter” for the same reason a flag flutters in a strong breeze. This fluttering is the cause of the snoring sound. While this sound is annoying, snoring alone has not been definitively shown to cause harm.

How Obstructive Sleep Apnea is Different from Snoring

If the walls of your airway completely collapse during sleep it makes it impossible for you to inhale. After a few seconds of trying, you will wake up – but just long enough to take a few breaths – and quickly go back to sleep. This process repeats itself over and over, potentially hundreds of times in a single night! Not only does this constant arousal keep you from achieving the deeper, more restorative stages of sleep that you need, it also repeatedly engages the body’s “fight or flight” response causing releases of stress hormones. Yet as awful as this sounds, you will awaken the next morning with absolutely no memory of any of it. This is the most common type of sleep apnea, called obstructive sleep apnea or OSA.

Reduced Quality of Life and Shortened Life Expectancy from Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea causes people to feel far sleepier during the day than they would otherwise feel, but of course, this is "normal" for them so they have no way to know that they could feel so much more rested and alert. It is therefore impossible to know if you have sleep apnea just by assessing your own level of daytime sleepiness. Yet, people with sleep apnea are many times more likely to fall asleep while driving, often resulting in catastrophic accidents. Also, the repeated release of stress hormones causes a wide range of serious health consequences, including risks of stroke and heart attack that are several times higher than for those without sleep apnea. In short, untreated sleep apnea has a really negative impact on the quality of life, and it very substantially shortens expected life span. Fortunately sleep apnea is easily treated, but the first step is finding out if you have it.

Finding Out if You Have Sleep Apnea

If you snore – and especially if you snore loudly and consistently when not using PureSleep, it’s possible that you have OSA, the most common type of sleep apnea. The only way to know for sure is to get evaluated by a doctor who can determine if you are at elevated risk of having sleep apnea through a simple initial consultation. Then if this consultation reveals that you are at elevated risk, you will get a “sleep test,” either in a sleep lab or in the comfort of your own home with a “home sleep test.” Once the doctor sees the results of that test, he or she can advise you if you have sleep apnea, and if you do, the two of you can discuss the various treatment options available. Many people are familiar with the most common type of treatment, CPAP, which involves wearing a mask over the nose that’s connected with a plastic tube to an air blower. However these days, there are also many other highly effective treatment options, including mandibular repositioning devices (MRDs) that are similar to PureSleep but have been shown to be effective at treating OSA.

Finding a Doctor Who is an Expert in Sleep Apnea

Some doctors have been board-certified to screen, diagnose, treat and manage sleep apnea using the latest methods and technologies. You can find one in your area by a visiting this web page which is operated by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), the primary professional organization for the field of sleep medicine.