How Sleep Apnea Differs From Insomnia
What’s Waking You Up?
Insomnia and sleep apnea are both distressing conditions that can cause extreme daytime exhaustion. It can be difficult for some patients to distinguish between the symptoms of sleep apnea and insomnia. However, each sleep disorder has unique signs that allow sleep specialists and dentists to determine the best treatment for you.
Explore our guide below to discover the differences between sleep apnea and insomnia.
What Are Sleep Apnea and Insomnia?
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a breathing-related sleep disorder. OSA is caused by tissue in the throat obstructing a patient’s airway during sleep and blocking oxygen from reaching their lungs. A lack of oxygen alerts the brain to wake up and begin breathing again, disrupting and resetting the essential cycles of sleep.
Symptoms of OSA include:
- Inability to fall asleep or wake up
- Nighttime snoring and choking
- Morning dry mouth, sore throat, headache, and nausea
- Daytime exhaustion
- Frequent nighttime urination
- High blood pressure
Often, patients who are suffering from sleep apnea have no idea why they’re waking up at night or are unaware that they’re waking up at all. That’s why the symptoms of OSA can be easily confused with insomnia.
Insomnia is a term used to describe nighttime sleeplessness. It can accompany or be caused by another condition or stressor. Sometimes, patients assume it’s the cause of their distressing symptoms rather than a sign of another condition.
Insomnia can be caused by:
- Sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea
- Travel, time-zone changes
- Stress from work, school, or family
- Poor sleep environment or habits
- Mental health conditions
- Medical conditions and medications
- Nighttime alcohol and caffeine use
How They’re Related
Studies show that insomnia commonly appears alongside or comorbidly with another sleep-related disorder, including OSA.
Trouble falling asleep is a symptom of sleep apnea that patients sometimes mistake for insomnia alone. Several signs of sleep apnea might indicate something more significant than just sleeplessness.
Diagnosing & Treating Your Sleep Disorder
Our experienced dentist Dr. Lauck recommends visiting a sleep specialist when you’re experiencing persistent sleeplessness, daytime exhaustion, or other sleep-related symptoms. Studies with a specialist can help your sleep dentist and doctor diagnose and target disorders with an effective treatment.
Your sleep study will take place at your specialists’ office. They’ll use a technology called polysomnography to measure your brainwaves, physical activity, and vital signs while you’re asleep. The results give us a clear picture of how your sleep could be affecting your everyday life.
If your sleep specialist has determined whether you’re suffering from sleep apnea, you’ll have a few treatment options to choose from:
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) Machines
CPAP machines are one of the most common treatment methods for sleep apnea. They help patients breathe clearly by opening their airways using pressurized air through a hose and mask worn over the nose and mouth. If you’re experiencing insomnia with OSA, CPAP can help keep your airway open through the night, providing relief from your tiring symptoms.
Oral Appliance Therapy
Although CPAP therapy can be effective if used as prescribed, many people discontinue their treatments because they find the machine loud and the mask uncomfortable. Some patients prefer a more subtle solution: oral appliances for sleep apnea.
A mouthguard for sleep apnea is a preferred treatment method of sleep dentists. Patients often find it easier to maintain their oral appliance routine compared to CPAP because it’s more comfortable and easier to carry during travel. Your custom oral appliance can silently open your airway anywhere, even in the car or on a plane, which helps reduce instances of insomnia due to travel as well.
Reduce Insomnia By Treating Your Sleep Apnea
Sleep disorders usually have one symptom in common: daytime exhaustion. But the differences in their other symptoms are what make the conditions unique. If you’re experiencing long-term insomnia, it could be caused by underlying sleep apnea or another treatable disorder.
Our Keller, TX sleep dentist Dr. Lauck can help you target and alleviate your symptoms once you’ve received a diagnosis from a sleep specialist. We’ll use the data from your study to create customized sleep solutions that address your individual needs. Contact us at (817) 431-6764 to learn more about reducing insomnia by treating sleep apnea.