What Is The Difference Between Sleep Therapy Devices?

If you've ever been told that you snore loudly or gasp for air while you sleep, it is possible that you might have a condition called sleep apnea. Sleep apnea involves having periods during sleep where you either stop breathing or you are not breathing well enough to get sufficient oxygen. The Mayo Clinic further states that you might wake up in the morning with a dry mouth or headache. Additionally, you might be extremely sleepy or irritable during the day or have problems staying alert.

The Sleep Foundation explains that there are three types of sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when a person's throat muscles relax during sleep, blocking their airway. Central sleep apnea, on the other hand, is caused by a problem in how the brain regulates breathing during sleep. Some people will have both at the same time, which is called "mixed sleep apnea."

The Cleveland Clinic states that sleep apnea is diagnosed using a sleep study. A sleep study can be done overnight in a sleep lab by trained professionals. This test will collect information needed to diagnose sleep issues, such as brain activity, heart rate, breathing, and blood oxygen levels. In some cases, a home sleep study can be done as well. The data provided by a home sleep study is a bit less detailed and is not appropriate for people with medical problems like heart, lung, or neuromuscular diseases.

Types of sleep therapy devices for sleep apnea

The American Sleep Apnea Association discusses that there are two types of treatments available for sleep apnea: positive airway pressure (PAP) machines and oral appliances.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, PAP machines are preferred for people with obstructive sleep apnea as they are beginning treatment. There are three types of PAP machines, says CPAP.com. With a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine, the air pressure is set at one constant rate. The pressure assists in keeping your airway open as you breathe. Another option is an automatic positive airway pressure machine (APAP). This type of machine is set to remain within a particular range of pressures and adjusts itself to meet your varying needs. Finally, there are bi-level positive airway pressure devices (BiPAP). These machines provide one pressure setting for inhaling and another for exhaling. These are most suited for people with severe obstructive sleep apnea.

Oral appliances are designed to hold the lower jaw forward, keeping the airway open. They are worn in a similar way to an orthodontic device and must be custom-made by a dentist to ensure proper fit. They are growing in popularity, according to the American Sleep Apnea Association, because they are comfortable, quiet, and easy to travel with.