Sleep Apnea General Information
Here you’ll find answers to some of the most common questions we’ve been asked, including how to tell if you might have sleep apnea. So if you have a question, check out the FAQs listed below, – the answer you’re looking for might be there. But if you don’t find what you’re looking for, then by all means feel free to contact us. We’re here to help.
What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea? Obstructive sleep apnea is a chronic condition that occurs when your muscles relax during sleep, allowing soft tissue to collapse and block the airway. As a result, repeated breathing pauses occur, which often reduce the body’s oxygen levels. These breathing pauses are followed by brief awakenings that disturb your sleep.
Is sleep apnea dangerous? Yes. If left untreated, sleep apnea may cause excessive daytime sleepiness or fatigue, as well as morning headaches and memory loss. Sleep apnea may also increase your risk of drowsiness while driving and workplace accidents. Untreated sleep apnea raises risks for serious health problems.
If I snore, does it mean I have sleep apnea? It’s possible, but not definite. Chronic loud snoring is one of the most common findings in how to tell if you have sleep apnea, and in fact the louder and more chronic the snoring is, the greater the likelihood of sleep apnea.
My partner tells me that I stop breathing when I sleep, then wake up gasping. Is this sleep apnea? This is a common sign of sleep apnea and should be discussed with your doctor.
If I am waking up at night and having all these sleep apnea symptoms, wouldn’t I be aware of it? Probably not. Most people with sleep apnea do not realize that they are waking up to breathe many times during the night. The arousal is slight, and people become accustomed to this, but it is enough to disrupt the pattern of sleep so that they get very little deep sleep or REM sleep, and often awaken feeling sleepy. A great many (probably most) sleep apnea sufferers go through a large part (or ALL) of their lives unaware of their condition.
Likewise regarding daytime sleepiness: people with sleep apnea often are not aware of feeling tired or unusually sleepy. The disorder develops over a number of years, and they are not aware of the increasing symptoms. They often believe they feel “normal”. Only after treatment do they realize how much more alert and energetic “normal” feels!
Why do I wake up exhausted even though I get up to 8 hours sleep at night? If you have sleep apnea you may wake up 50 or more times per hour during the night. This is equivalent to waking up almost every minute. Unfortunately all those awakenings prevent you from reaching the deeper and more restful sleep so it matters little how many hours you are in bed. The best solution to how to tell if you have sleep apnea is to get tested; talk to your physician or dentist.
What should I do if I think I may have sleep apnea? Sleep apnea is a serious and potentially fatal medical condition. If you or a loved one suspect you have it, you should be tested as soon as possible. Talk to your healthcare provider.
I was tested four years ago, my doctor told me that I had mild sleep apnea. Should I get tested again? Discuss this with your doctor. The severity of sleep apnea can change over time depending on many factors (i.e. age, weight, other health conditions). For more information about how to tell if you have sleep apnea, please visit the Public Health Agency of Canada or the National Institute of Health.
Sleep Apnea Treatment
What is oral appliance therapy? It is a custom-fit dental device for sleep apnea (i.e. like a sports mouthguard) that positions the lower jaw forward, which opens your airway to minimize obstruction and treat sleep apnea. Oral appliances are easy to use and preferred by a lot of patients, but they don’t effectively treat everyone.
What is CPAP and how does it work? CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) is a device that provides a gentle flow of positive air pressure through a mask that fits over your nose and mouth to keep the airway open during sleep. When used as prescribed, it works 100% of the time, but most patients have difficulty wearing it long-term.
I have been diagnosed with severe sleep apnea, and I can’t use CPAP. Will oral appliance therapy work for me? Only 50-70% of sleep apnea patients will be effectively treated with an oral appliance. A MATRx™ plus test will tell you, and your doctor, if oral appliance therapy is right for you, including the jaw position for your custom-fit appliance.
I wear an orthodontic retainer. Does that have an impact on oral appliance therapy? No. You will not be able to wear an orthodontic retainer and an oral appliance at the same time. Discuss this with your dentist.
MATRx plus™ at Home Test – What to Expect
How is the MATRx plus test different than other home sleep apnea tests? If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, MATRx plus is the only test that can predict if your sleep apnea will be effectively treated with an oral appliance and the position to set your mandible. This means you will be able to start effective therapy, faster.
What should I expect on the night of my MATRx plus test? You will need to wear a small monitor around your waist and attach sensors to your body. The sensors record airflow in and out of your nose, your breathing pattern, snoring, blood oxygen levels, heart rate, and the position you sleep in (i.e. on your back, side or stomach). You will also place temporary dental trays in your mouth. These trays will be connected to a small motor that will move your lower jaw slowly and in small increments through the night to keep your airway open.
How many hours do I have to sleep to do the MATRx plus test? We recommend that you plan to sleep for 7 hours, which includes the time it takes you to fall asleep and any time that you may have to pause the study (i.e. when you get out of bed).
I grind my teeth, and wear a bruxism appliance. Can I still do the MATRx plus test? Yes, however you cannot wear this appliance during the sleep study.
I wear an orthodontic retainer each night. Can I wear it during the MATRx plus test? You can wear it during a Sleep Study with the MATRx plus, but not during the Theragnostic Sleep Study. During the Theragnostic Sleep Study, the temporary MATRx plus titration trays need to be placed firmly on your teeth in preparation.
I’m a mouth breather. Can I still do the MATRx plus test or use an oral appliance? Yes, if you can breathe comfortably through your nose in a supine position (i.e. lying on your back). Discuss this with your dentist prior to starting the study.