Am I Suffering from Insomnia or Sleep Apnea?

Am I Suffering from Insomnia or Sleep Apnea?

Sleeping disorders are no joke. They can seriously disrupt our lives and leave us feeling exhausted and depressed in major cases. While disorders like sleep apnea and insomnia both lead to sleep deprivation, they are caused by different factors. In this piece, we’ll explore each of these factors in further detail and look at how sleep apnea and insomnia are treated with the help of LOOKEE® Sleep Oxygen Monitors.

What Is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is caused by an obstruction of the upper airway, consisting of the nostrils, nasal cavity, mouth, throat (pharynx), and voice box (larynx). When the muscles in the throat relax, they can no longer support the surrounding tissue. When this happens, the airway collapses, and air can no longer pass through, making it impossible to breathe. This leads to what is known as a sleep apnea event. When the airway collapses while a person is asleep, they’ll stop breathing and wake up gasping for air. 

Individuals who suffer from sleep apnea will experience recurring apnea episodes throughout the night. They won’t be able to reach the REM stage of their sleep cycle, and since they spend so much time waking up, they’ll be extremely exhausted and/ or disoriented by the time morning comes.

There are three types of sleep apnea. The most common is known as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). In this case, the patient’s airway simply collapses or is blocked while they are asleep. Other forms include central sleep apnea (CSA) and complex sleep apnea.

Central sleep apnea is as common as OSA. It differs whereby the individual's inability to breathe during sleep is not due to an obstructed airway. Instead, the brain fails to send signals to the body to continue the involuntary respiratory process while the patient sleeps. Complex sleep apnea is regarded as a very rare sleep disorder where a patient suffers from both CSA and OSA..

Living with sleep apnea is not easy. That's why the LOOKEE® Sleep Oxygen Monitors allow you to track the effectiveness of sleep apnea machines such as CPAP, BiPAP and APAP, ensuring that they are allowing you to breathe without any disruptions. When your blood oxygen levels drop below acceptable levels, our devices will send a gentle vibration to wake you up. Say goodbye to those nighttime choking fits and get the rest you deserve!

What is Insomnia?

Insomnia has become known as a common sleep disorder that makes it difficult for an individual to fall or stay asleep during the night. Some people might even find themselves waking up early and struggling to go back to sleep. Like sleep apnea, this leads to sleep deprivation. People with insomnia wake up feeling miserable and unrested.  Their physical and mental health is negatively impacted, and so are their personal relationships and productivity levels.

Due to stress that may be caused overwork, financial responsibilities or harmful relationships, many individuals can go through short-term (acute) insomnia, which can last for days or weeks on end. In instances of severe traumatic events, some people experience persistent long-term insomnia that can last for a month or longer.

The Key Difference

By analyzing the two sleeping disorders, it is clear to see that each of them have different causes. Sleep apnea is caused by physical and psychological factors, i.e., an obstruction of the upper airway or an inability to regulate respiratory functions. Insomnia, on the other hand, is usually caused by factors that disrupt mental well-being, such as stress or traumatic experiences. 

Insomnia makes it difficult for people to fall or stay asleep because of stress, while sleep apnea causes this because of apnea episodes that prevent sufficient oxygen intake, leading to coughing fits that occur during sleep. 

Differences in Treatment

Before treating sleep apnea, a person must be diagnosed by undergoing a sleep study. It is after this study that a somnologist can analyze the results to determine which type of sleep apnea the person has. After this, a specialist will recommend a PAP breathing machine that makes use of either APAP, CPAP or BiPAP to provide the lungs with oxygen so that the patient will not expose as many sleep apnea events throughout the night. There are also surgeries that can be performed to prevent airway obstruction.

Insomnia is usually treated with the help of sleep aids, and these can be either natural or chemical-based. Depending on the severity of insomnia, a doctor may prescribe sleep medication that makes patients feel drowsy before they go to sleep. In less critical situations, natural sleep aids that make use of calming herbs and vitamins can help improve any insomnia symptoms.