While the typical obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) patient is pictured as a heavyset male with a bulky neck, who is over the age of 40 and has a snore that could raise the roof, there are other sleep apnea causes. Therefore, sleep apnea and obesity do not represent the entire demographic of individuals who suffer with this sleeping disorder, people with sleep apnea all shapes and sizes.
When it comes to people’s sleep goals, many of us tend to focus on how many hours of sleep they get. We hear that comment from our patients all the time here at Premier Sleep Associates. While the number of hours you are in bed to sleep is a great benchmark to start with, you also need to focus on the quality of sleep and restfulness you have to get the most out of your sleep.
With the number of convenient health tracking tools available today, it’s no surprise that you can now keep track of and analyze your sleep using digital tools available for your smartphone, computer, and tablet. Many different online screeners and sleep tracking apps now exist to help you keep track of your sleep: you can manually log or automatically sync up data about your bedtime, your wake time, your sleep fragmentation, and even, potentially, signs and symptoms of sleep disorders, including snoring and sleep apnea.
Some researchers refer to this category of tracking and recording health data at home to later share with a doctor as “telemedicine.”
But how good are these consumer digital health tools, really? Is it possible for an average person to gather accurate enough sleep data on your own to make a preliminary diagnosis of a problem as serious as obstructive sleep apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the medical term used when referring to a sleep disorder that is characterized by an intermittent failure to breathe during sleep due to some type of physical obstruction that repeatedly blocks the airway. The body struggles to breathe but cannot – the effort can go on for 10, 20, 30 seconds or more. When the blockage is finally cleared, gasps for air, snorts and/or choking sounds occur as the body resumes normal breathing. Until the block happens again.
For years, individuals with OSA have been treated with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP); however, oral appliances as a first line therapy for sleep apnea may be able to address a patient’s obstructive sleep apnea without the need for expensive, bulky and uncomfortable equipment.