It’s something that we do every day and that we can’t function without—it’s sleep. Our bodies and our brains require not only a certain amount of sleep in a 24-hour period but for that sleep to be of good quality. When we sleep, our brains organize the information that’s taken in during the day in order to keep what’s necessary and dispose of what’s not. Our bodies use sleep to secrete specific hormones, repair muscles and tissues, and even support our immune systems.
Humans have an internal clock that controls our sleep-wake cycle. Normal sleep can be broken down into four “cycles,” or “stages”: Stage 1, Stage 2, Stage 3 and Rapid Eye Movement (REM). Poor quality sleep occurs during any sleep period where sleep is disrupted and the individual does not properly cycle through all four stages. Many things can disrupt sleep—sounds, being sick, pain and sometimes even a sleep disorder. One of the most common types of sleep disorder is Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome (OSA).
Obstructive Sleep Apnea occurs when breathing is disrupted due to an obstruction in the airway. There is usually a decrease in blood oxygen levels along with a brief arousal from sleep. These disruptions in breathing cause the brain to wake multiple times per hour throughout the night often without the person knowing it’s occurring.
OSA can be as mild as snoring or more severe to as severe as pauses in breathing hundreds of times an hour. Signs and symptoms of OSA can include sleepiness during the day, experiencing morning headaches and high blood pressure.
Centra’s Sleep Disorders Center is equipped to diagnose and treat OSA in addition to other sleep disorders. One treatment option for Obstructive Sleep Apnea that has recently gained attention is called Inspire. This treatment option is a viable option for individuals who are experiencing moderate to serve OSA by delivering mild stimulation to key airway muscles through a surgically implanted device.
This treatment option often works well for patients who do not receive consistent benefit from a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. The Inspire Device is placed under the skin in a same-day, outpatient procedure that usually takes around two hours. Following the placement of the device, it is finetuned to properly stimulate the motor nerve that controls the tongue. The device that creates the stimulation is turned on using a small remote and moves the tongue forward so that the airway is not obstructed during sleep.
Centra began offering this treatment option earlier this year in partnership with Lynchburg Pulmonary Associates and Blue Ridge Ear, Nose & Throat, and we’re excited for how this new option for the treatment of OSA could positively advance the health of our communities when they’re awake and when they’re asleep!