We all know that restorative sleep is important for physical and mental well-being. Yet millions of Americans suffer from sleep disorders that prevent normal, healthy sleep. Two pervasive sleep disorders are insomnia and sleep apnea. Let’s discuss their differences.
What is insomnia?
Insomnia is a sleep disorder where individuals may have a hard time falling asleep and/or staying asleep throughout the night. It is often linked to depression, anxiety, poor sleep habits, certain medications, or chronic illness. Insomnia is largely linked to psychological issues.
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder in which an individual’s breathing is temporarily disrupted throughout the night. When a person with sleep apnea sleeps, their breathing stops periodically, without their control or knowledge. The cause of the temporary cessation in breathing is due to a blocked airway.
There are three types of sleep apnea:
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea: Throat muscles soften and cover the airway. This is the most prevalent type.
- Central Sleep Apnea: The brain doesn’t send signals to the muscles that control breathing.
- Complex Sleep Apnea Syndrome: This type is a combination of obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea.
Older men and individuals with diabetes are more at risk for sleep apnea, whereas individuals that suffer from insomnia are not categorized into a specific demographic.
Sleep apnea is often associated with lifestyle choices, throat anatomy, and age. Insomnia is often associated with psychological issues like depression and anxiety.
Poor sleep habits and lifestyle choices can make both sleep apnea and insomnia more severe, conversely, positive lifestyle choices can ease each of the conditions.
For individuals with either sleep apnea or insomnia, it is important to consult a doctor that specializes in sleep disorders. The physician can refer the patient to the appropriate specialist when they have a firm diagnosis.
If the physician diagnoses obstructive sleep apnea, the patient has a couple of treatment choices–the main ones being CPAP and oral appliance therapy (OAT). At Houston Sleep Solutions, OAT for sleep apnea and snoring is our specialty. If the patient receives a diagnosis of insomnia, their doctor can refer them to a specialist for treatment.
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