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Sleep apnea is a common condition that is characterized by the repetitive obstruction of airflow into your lungs during sleep, causing repeated pauses in breathing and resulting in negative health risks if left untreated. It is estimated over 18 million Americans suffer from this condition. For those affected, their airway to the lungs is most commonly blocked at the throat level of the soft palate. However, it is possible that obstructions appear in different levels of the throat.

How Do I know If I Have Sleep Apnea?

Snoring is the most common symptom in patients. Those affected can stop breathing throughout the night, leading to severe sleep disturbance. The brain however, will continuously wake the individual to resume a normal breathing pattern, causing them to become more fatigued and tired throughout the day than others. Common symptoms may include:

  • Snoring that may be very loud
  • Choking or gasping during sleep
  • Stopping breathing during sleep
  • Unrefreshing sleep and morning grogginess
  • Dry mouth in the morning
  • Headaches on awakening that may persist during the day
  • Problems with memory and concentration
  • Night sweats
  • Indigestion during the night
  • Urinating several times at night
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Irritability and/or fatigue during the day
  • Depression
  • Decreased libido

How Do You Get Sleep Apnea?

During sleep, the tongue, excess throat tissue, or relaxed throat muscles can block the airway passage to the lungs. As breathing reduces or stops, the body begins struggling for air and the oxygen level in the blood drops. The brain will wake the affected individual to resume the normal breathing for four or five breaths until the oxygen level rises and the individual then falls back to sleep. This repetitive process can continue throughout the night, resulting in:

  • High blood pressure or blood pressure that requires manymedications
  • Heart attack
  • Irregular heart beats
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Stroke

What Test Diagnoses Sleep Apnea?

Diagnosing sleep apnea involves an overnight sleep study overseen by a board certified sleep doctor completed in one of our state of the art sleep labs or from a take home sleep test. Before your study, sensors will be applied to your body for us to monitor various bodily parameters such as your brain waves, eye movements, oxygen levels, heart rate, and breathing patterns. If the test is done in the lab, you are often able to go about your normal duties the following morning. In some cases, treatment may be started during the night o0f the sleep study. Following your study, results are interpreted by our board certified sleep doctor and the results are communicated and explained to you as well as a copy is sent to your open doctor as directed.

How Do You Treat Sleep Apnea?

There are several treatment modalities. In our clinic, we individualize treatment ensuring we match you to the most appropriate modality after discussion with the specialist.

Available modalities include:

  • Nasal CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure): Nasal CPAP is a device that can be placed and used in the comfort of your home. The CPAP device works during sleep by gently blowing air from a machine into a mask applied over the person’s nose. The air pressure keeps the airway open, eliminating the apnea and frequent awakenings. Nasal CPAP is the most common treatment method available.
  • Weight Loss: This is an integral part of our comprehensive approach to sleep care. Even small weight loss may make a difference and we provide a health coach to assist you in the process.
  • Positioning: For some people, position change during sleep may reduce symptoms or be the only treatment needed. It can be difficult to change the way you sleep but learning to use pillows to position yourself comfortably on your side can help prevent obstructions to your airway during sleep.
  • Dental appliances: Some appliances are used to help keep the tongue and lower jaw from falling backward during sleep. They are most effective for people with mild to moderate symptoms. They may be adequate to treat certain categories of patients. Dentists who specialize in the management of apnea fit these devices.
  • Surgery: Surgery to widen the breathing passage is an option in severe cases.


Snoring is the noise that occurs when the flow of air from the mouth or nose to your lungs makes the tissues of your throat vibrate during sleep. Vibrations can be severe leading to loud sounds that may make it hard for you and your partner to sleep peacefully. Almost 90 million American adults suffer from this sleep disorder. It may have untoward effects on you and your partner.

Why Do I Snore?

As you sleep the muscles in your throat can start to relax, causing your tongue to fall back and your throat to narrow. As breathing occurs vibrations are caused when the soft palate and uvula knock against the back of your throat, causing the loud noise you hear. A narrower airway can cause greater vibrations and therefore louder sounds from the sleeping individual.

Does Snoring Pose Any Health Risks?

Chronic and habitual snoring may be a marker for more serious health problems. About one-half of these individuals suffer from obstructive sleep apnea which results when the passage to your lungs is blocked and your breathing can stop repeatedly while you sleep. Sleep apnea can cause severe problems to an affected individual:

  • Long interruptions of breathing (more than 10 seconds) during sleep caused by partial or total obstruction of the airway.
  • Frequent waking from sleep, even though you may not realize it.
  • Light sleeping. People with obstructive sleep apnea sleep lightly to try to keep their throat muscles tense enough to maintain airflow.
  • Strain on the heart. Prolonged suffering from obstructive sleep apnea often results in higher blood pressure and may cause enlargement of the heart, with higher risks of heart attack and stroke.
  • Poor night’s sleep. This leads to drowsiness during the day and can interfere with your quality of life.

Sleep apnea is a significant risk factor for other medical conditions, such as heart disease, heart attacks, diabetes and high blood pressure. If you believe you or your partner suffer from sleep apnea then consult with a certified sleep doctor immediately. Texas Sleep Medicine provides consultations and sleep tests with our patients and if a sleep apnea diagnosis is made we will discuss further treatment options so you can sleep peacefully and live a healthier lifestyle.

How Is It Diagnosed?

A diagnosis can be made depending on if your partner is aware of it, it runs in your family, or if you haven’t been sleeping well at night. Snoring can be the result of other sleep disorders, such as sleep
apnea, which would require further testing and treatment.

How to Stop Snoring:

Firstly, any underlying disorder such as sleep apnea if present should be treated. Other steps to take include:

  • Lose weight if you are overweight.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Sleep on your side and not your back.
  • Limit your use of alcohol and medicines such as sedatives before you go to bed.
  • If you have a stuffy nose, use nose strips, decongestants, or nasal steroid sprays to help you breathe.
  • Try using devices that you attach to the outside of your nose to help with breathing while you sleep. These include nasal strips and nasal disks.


Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) is an uncomfortable feeling or sensation in the legs that is relieved by moving or stimulating the legs. Through movement, the individual is provided with temporary relief and reduction of any pain associated with the disorder. Sensations often occur at night and during sleep, but can happen throughout the day while the body is at rest, such as while riding in the car, watching TV, reading, or lying down. Having a mild case may not cause disturbance to your sleep, however, it can lessen your quality of sleep making you feel more tired during the day.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome?

The primary symptom is the uncomfortable sensations felt in an individual’s leg during inactivity. These sensations are paired with an urge to move their legs until the feeling subsides. It may be hard for some to describe the sensations they feel, if they have this disorder they may feel:

• Itching
• Crawling
• Burning
• Creeping
• Throbbing
• Pulling
• Tingling
• Flowing

What Causes Restless Leg Syndrome?

In some cases, the cause may be unknown to physicians. It is most commonly known to affect those over the age of 45, however, it can appear in patients at any age. As an individual gets older, the likelihood of having the disorder increases. It also appears more frequently in women than it does in men. Genetics play an important role, having a family member with this disorder means you are more likely to develop it before the age of 45. Other health-related concerns that can be a likely cause are listed below:

  • Low iron levels
  • Diabetes
  • Pregnancy
  • Side effect of medication

Are There Any Associated Health Risks?

Most individuals affected with this disorder do not view it as a serious health risk and therefore do not receive treatment. If left untreated, symptoms can become more severe, causing more suffering to the individual and a possibility of acquiring other associated health risks. Those who are severely affected may receive less than 5 hours of sleep at night due to the common interruptions that can occur. Over time the loss of sleep can reduce an individual’s quality of life.

How Can Restless Leg Syndrome Be Diagnosed?

In order to receive a diagnosis, you will want to schedule an appointment with a certified sleep doctor where you will receive a physical examination and have a discussion of your medical history. If there is evidence you may be suffering from this disorder a sleep study will be performed at our center. Following the study, your doctor will interpret the data in order to give you an accurate diagnosis.

What Is The Treatment For Restless Leg Syndrome?

  • Physical Activity: Having this disorder is often your body’s way of telling you that it needs more movement or less stress throughout the day. Exercise and stress reduction can be leading factors in finding relief. Try developing a simple workout routine to stimulate your body and exert some of that energy. If exercise is not the problem, stress can be a leading factor as well. Try taking a warm bath or get a massage to relax your muscles.
  • Minimize Stimulants/Chemicals: Avoiding stimulants and alcohol can greatly increase the effectiveness of your sleep cycle. Try minimizing the amount of caffeine and alcohol you consume throughout the day.
  • Medication: For a list of acceptable medications for treating restless leg syndrome, please contact us.


Narcolepsy is an uncommon neurological disorder that causes excessive sleepiness throughout the day. This lifelong condition can develop at any age. However, it is most common to appear in adolescence or young adulthood and due to the nature of the disorder it may remain unrecognized as the affected individual ages. It is estimated about one in every 2,000 people are affected with some form of the disorder. An individual with this condition may be overwhelmingly tired throughout the day and in the most severe cases have uncontrollable sleep attacks. Sleep attacks can last anywhere from a minute or in rare cases up to an hour. It’s important to understand that those who live with this condition do not sleep more than the average person but, due to the disorder, they can’t control their timing of sleep and may have difficulty sleeping during nighttime hours.

What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Narcolepsy?

The most common symptom associated with this condition is excessive sleepiness or falling asleep unexpectedly throughout the day. Some individuals affected with this sleep disorder may be unaware of other symptoms and therefore do not seek treatment.

Other symptoms an affected individual may have can include:

  • Cataplexy - sudden attacks of muscle weakness associated with strong emotions
  • Hallucinations Just Before Falling Asleep - usually experienced as vivid dreams
  • Sleep Paralysis - inability to move upon waking up, lasting from a few seconds to a few minutes
  • Fatigue
  • Restlessness
  • Disturbed Nighttime Sleep
  • Leg Jerks
  • Nightmares

What Are the Health Risks?

The condition is known to develop with age and can be associated with other health risks as it progresses. Having this sleep disorder can impact every aspect of an individual’s life, such as during everyday activities. Operating machinery and motor vehicles can be dangerous and life threatening as a sleep attack can occur at any moment.

How Is It Diagnosed?

To receive a diagnosis, you will want to schedule an appointment with a board certified sleep doctor where you will receive an initial evaluation. An overnight sleep study will be scheduled along with a daytime sleep study called a Multiple Sleep Latency Test (MSLT). The MSLT consists of a series of naps spaced throughout the day. This is done to assess the degree of sleepiness and can confirm the diagnosis of narcolepsy and rule out any other sleep disorders such as sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome.

What Is the Treatment for Narcolepsy?

Those affected may have many years of excessive sleepiness before seeking any treatment. Medication, good sleep hygiene, and changes in lifestyle are the primary treatment modalities for narcolepsy. Scheduling 20-30 minute naps at specific times throughout the day can help reduce the uncontrollable urge to sleep at undesirable times with fewer disruptions to a person’s daily schedule. Avoiding heavy meals, alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine also help provide relief from this condition, as well as maintaining a healthy diet and regular exercise.