What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a condition that is becoming more common nowadays. According to the Center for Apnea, sleep apnea is a condition that affects around 600,000 people in the Netherlands. This is approximately 5% of the adult population in the Netherlands. There are probably more people who suffer from sleeping problems. Sometimes recognizing sleep apnea is not easy and other conditions are considered. (Read Ronald’s story about this.)
Sleep apnea is also called apnea, sleep apnea syndrome or Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). Apnea means you can’t breathe. With sleep apnea this happens during sleep. As a result, you have so-called sleep stops during your sleep. These sleep stops are caused by the fact that you relax during your sleep.
This relaxes all the muscles in the body, including the muscles in your mouth, throat and neck. Your trachea will be closed and your breath will stop. In some cases you wake up but often this does not happen. This way you sleep lighter and you don’t get into your deeper sleep. This has far-reaching consequences.
In the first instance the symptoms manifest themselves as irritability, daytime fatigue, loss of concentration, depression and anxiety. In the longer term, patients with sleep apnea may, for example, develop cardiovascular problems, diabetes or high blood pressure.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Positional Sleep Apnea
More attention has recently been paid to the position in which sleep apnea manifests itself. Research shows that around 55% of apnea patients have the positional form – Positional Sleep Apnea (POSAS). This means that the sleep stops mainly occur in the supine position. If the patient turns to a side (or belly) position, the sleep stops do not occur (or very few).
Determining sleep apnea starts with a visit to your doctor. It can help to complete one of the online sleep apnea tests before visiting your doctor. The doctor will then refer you to a sleep center. A sleep study – polysomnography – is performed here. This sleep study can be performed on location, but often also at home. During the sleep study, the quality of breathing and sleep is measured during one night. The aim is to detect or exclude possible respiratory disorders and their influence on sleep. An important outcome is your sleeping position and the number of sleep stops (Apnea Hypopnea Index). If the AHI is 5 or higher then you have Obstructive Sleep Apnea. In this case, the number in the AHI stands for the number of sleep stops that last 10 seconds or longer.
Over the years, various effective treatment methods have been developed for the treatment of sleep apnea. It is important to mention that all existing treatment methods must be worn on (or in) the body.
The most well-known and applied solution is the apnea device or sleep apnea mask – the CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure). It’s designed to hold your airway open and sends air at pressure into your upper airway to stop it collapsing or narrowing.
In addition to using the CPAP, a MRA bracket (mandibular repositioning device) is also regularly used. An MRA bracket is a dental prosthesis that positions your jaw so that you can breathe freely and your throat remains open.
A permanent but radical solution can also be respiratory tract surgery. Depending on the obstruction of the airways, this may be a nose, throat, or neck operation.
The most well-known treatment method for positional sleep apnea is where a strap is worn around the chest that vibrates as soon as you lie on your back during sleep. This will turn you to a side or belly position. This is also called position therapy.
There are a number of important disadvantages to all of the above mentioned treatment methods. They cause inconvenience, are confronting or difficult to use. As a result, the products associated with the treatment methods are not (sufficiently) worn or used, resulting in the return of the sleep apnea complaints.
With the development of the Sleepassist, the SleepCompany offers a solution that eliminates all the disadvantages mentioned. The Sleepassist is a position therapy that is always on, invisible and, moreover, very easy to use.