We all know the drill. We feel sick, we go to the doctor, we get a blood test and we find out what’s wrong with us so we can receive treatment. But is this process actually giving us the whole picture? As science continues to reveal the plethora of ways in which sleep quality affects our health, doctors are increasingly choosing to send patients for a sleep study in addition to (or instead of) a blood test. The results often reveal that symptoms are being caused by a sleep disorder, and the patient is referred to a sleep specialist to receive a customised treatment plan.
Here are five common complaints that should be further explored by undergoing a sleep study:
Everybody feels tired sometimes, but feeling a bone deep weariness, an eternal fogginess that never seems to lift is not normal. Far too often, when the cause of the fatigue does not show up in a blood test, patients are mistakenly diagnosed with depression. While depression is one cause of extreme fatigue, it is not always to blame. Anybody who is experiencing unexplained fatigue should undergo a sleep study, as one of the most common causes is sleep apnoea – a condition where breathing stops intermittently during sleep, depriving the brain of oxygen.
Weight Management Problems or Obesity
Weight management can be very complicated and there can be myriad factors which cause a person to gain excessive weight. However, if you are struggling with persistent weight management issues despite making a concerted effort to lose weight, a sleep disorder may be to blame. Those suffering sleep apnoea experience a disruption to their hormones which affects the metabolism as well as inhibiting feelings of satiety. This is a toxic combination which causes excessive hunger while also slowing down the body’s ability to metabolise the energy consumed. Sleep apnoea can only be diagnosed through a sleep study, making it an essential diagnostic tool for those struggling with their weight.
High Blood Pressure
There is an extremely strong link between heart disease, high blood pressure and sleep apnoea. Sleep apnoea causes the heart to work overtime to try to deliver oxygen to the brain, putting a strain on the cardiac system. Once sleep apnoea has been identified through a sleep study, treatment can begin almost immediately, relieving the strain on the heart and drastically improving cardiac health.
Snoring is the most obvious symptom of a sleep disorder, yet surprisingly many sufferers never think to tell their doctor about their snoring, or undergo a sleep study. There is a common misperception that snoring is ‘normal’ and not a health issue requiring treatment. If snoring is infrequent and mild, it probably doesn’t pose a health risk, but anybody snores more than once a week should be aware that this is not normal and may indicate a serious health disorder. Snoring is one of the most common symptoms of sleep apnoea, which can impact weight, mood, heart health and many other aspects of wellbeing. All habitual snorers should ask their GP about getting a sleep study, or seek a consultation with a sleep specialist.
Sex Drive and Relationships
Tiredness is one of the most common causes of a reduced sex drive, especially in men. Sleep deprivation (which can occur even without you realising) can lead to a drop in testosterone and consequently, a drop in sex drive. Improving sleep quality will boost HGH levels and testosterone and will work wonders for your sex life.
The snoring caused by sleep apnoea can also cause serious damage to relationships, as the sound usually disturbs the sufferers sleep partner, sometimes even forcing them to sleep in a separate room. Sleep apnoea treatment drastically reduces snoring and has been shown to have an incredibly positive effect on countless relationships.
Sleep disorders are the hidden cause for many serious health issues and can only be diagnosed through a specialised sleep test. More often than not, suffers have no idea that they are not getting adequate sleep. This is because sleep apnoea causes the body to stop breathing and briefly wake up multiple times throughout the night. These tiny awakenings are usually not remembered by the sufferer, so they will have the impression that they slept throughout the night, despite often feeling tired when they wake in the morning. The good news is, once identified, there are many highly effective treatments which can deliver drastic improvements almost immediately.
While your GP may refer you for a sleep study, you do not need a referral to undergo a sleep study. Dr Levi offers at-home sleep studies that allow you to sleep in your own bed while undergoing the test, rather than spending the night in the hospital.
Find out more about our sleep tests or call us on 9283 1900 to book a consultation with Dr Levi.
Snoring is one of those medical conditions often viewed by sufferers as an unavoidable annoyance they simply have to endure. Around 15% of the population snore most nights, yet many people erroneously believe that there is no treatment available that is actually able to stop snoring completely. Luckily for sufferers (and their bedmates) there are at least 5 snoring solutions that are highly effective in reducing the intensity and frequency of snoring, often to the extent that it is undetectable and no longer affects sleep quality at all. If you snore and you haven’t tried at least a few of these snoring solutions, you are most likely suffering unnecessarily. So read on to discover how your snoring could be treated.
1. Weight Loss
Although patients often hate to hear it, weight loss is one of the most powerfully effective treatments for snoring. Snoring is caused by the partial obstruction of the airway by excessive or loose tissue, which is always more likely to be present in people who are overweight due to excess fatty tissue and poor muscle tone. For many patients, simply losing weight will cause their snoring symptoms to disappear completely. This will have a twofold positive effect on your health; not only will you benefit from losing weight, your sleep quality and oxygen supply will increase from the reduction in snoring, giving you more energy, better moods and a better metabolism, ultimately helping you to keep your weight stable.
Positives: Free, highly effective and with multiple health benefits
Negatives: Can be difficult to achieve and may take a long period of time (other treatments can be used to manage snoring while weight loss is in progress)
2. Positional Therapy
Any spouse of a snorer will tell you that the snoring is always worse when their partner is sleeping on his or her back. This is no coincidence; when you sleep on your back the tissue at the back of your throat relaxes and blocks your airways. If you only snore when you are on your back, you probably only experience mild to medium snoring which can often be treated through positional therapy to prevent you from sleeping on your back. There are a number of devices available to help you sleep in healthier positions without disturbing your sleep or that of your partner. One example is the Night Shift which is worn on the neck and begins to vibrate when you sleep on your back, prompting you to move (much more gently than that sharp elbow to the ribs favoured by the spouses of snorers).
Positives: Cheap and easy to use
Negatives: Only effective for mild to moderate snorers who do not have sleep apnoea
3. Anti Snoring Mouth Guard
The anti snoring mouth guard is a device which works by manually bringing the jaw forward, lifting the soft palate and holding the tongue forward in order to prevent obstruction of the airways. These devices are worn in the mouth during sleep and are very comfortable and (unlike the commonly used CPAP machine) completely silent. Oral appliances are currently the leading treatment for sleep apnoea due to their high (93%) success rate and ease of use. While the internet is bursting at the seams with low quality, mass produced mouth guards, the highly effective Mandibular Advancement Splint mouth guard needs to be customised to suit the mouth of the wearer in order for it to actually work.
Positives: Highly effective, comfortable and silent
Negatives: Must be fitted by a professional and worn every night to prevent snoring
Laser snoring solutions are extremely new to the Australian market but have been used widely and successfully in Europe for a number of years. The treatment uses laser light to strengthen and tighten the tissue at the back of the throat that would otherwise relax and obstruct the airways. Laser snoring treatment is the closest thing to an actual ‘cure’ for snoring, as it removes the physical cause of snoring rather then just controlling it during sleep.
Positives: Pain free, surgery free and no need to wear any device during sleep
Negatives: Maintenance treatments may be required. Efficacy rate is slightly lower than the mouth guard (Dr Mark Levi and world renowned Dr Harvey Shiffman (Florida, USA) get an average improvement of 75% or greater using the NightLase laser treatment (with the Florida protocols)).
5. CPAP Machine
The CPAP machine, or sleep apnoea machine, is the treatment that springs to most people’s minds when they picture snoring solutions. What many people don’t know is just how effective these machines can be in helping people to stop snoring and improving the overall health of mild to severe snorers. The CPAP machine uses mild air pressure (delivered through a mask worn over the face) to keep the airways open. It is typically used to treat people whose snoring is caused by sleep apnoea. While this machine is incredibly effective when used properly, it is not the right choice for everybody, as many people find the noise and discomfort of the machine off-putting and actually prefer the snoring (despite the negative health repercussions).
Positives: The most effective snoring treatment available when used consistently
Negatives: Can disturb sleep through discomfort and noise
Dr Levi is a snoring and sleep apnoea specialist with over 20 years’ experience. Dr Levi’s Sleep Clinic uses the latest technological advancements to offers customised snoring solutions that really work. He has a number of specialists including dieticians, ENTs, psychologists, cardiologists and physicians which he may refer clients to in order to ensure their treatment is holistic and effective. Don’t waste another night of precious sleep – call Dr Levi on (02) 9283 1900 to book a consultation today.
In August this year, Dr Levi packed up his bags and flew across the world to Florida to attend a conference of some of the world’s experts in laser snoring technology. Spurred on by his passion for discovering new technologies and treatment methodologies, Dr Levi jumped at the opportunity to enhance his expertise in the use of the revolutionary NightLase laser snoring treatment system. While Dr Levi had been impressed by the great results was already getting with NightLase in successfully alleviating snoring and sleep apnoea for many of his patients, he was eager to discover if these results could be improved on even further.
The conference was led by the laser snoring legend, Harvey Schiffman, who developed the training protocol for the NightLase system and is also the chief trainer for Fontana Laser (the manufacturer of the NightLase laser). Once Dr Levi got over his excitement at being in the presence of a laser-dentistry celebrity, he got fixed into learning as much as he could about the NightLase system. Across the world, there are currently 4-8 different techniques being employed to deliver the NightLase laser snoring treatment, but these techniques vary in their efficacy. The technique with the best results is the one designed by Dr Harvey Schiffman in collaboration with Fontana and Dr Levi was personally instructed on this technique by Dr Shiffman himself.
Returning to Australia, armed with his newly enhanced skills and knowledge about the NightLase laser snoring treatment system, Dr Levi has begun implementing the new technique and has been incredibly impressed with the results. There are currently just 10 NightLase machines in Australia and Dr Levi is currently the only practitioner in the country who has been trained by Dr Schiffman, meaning he is the only one using the most effective technique and getting the best results from laser snoring treatments. While the popularity of laser-based treatments is currently exploding, this has unfortunately resulted in many non-specialised clinics offering laser snoring treatments in addition to a range of other cosmetic laser treatments, without having the necessary knowledge and expertise in sleep medicine. This has resulted in many snoring and sleep apnoea sufferers paying to receive a treatment which is ineffective and not appropriate for their unique circumstances.
Dr Levi’s 20 years of experience in sleep medicine means that he uses a rigorous medical method, and he never uses a “one size fits all” approach. He only uses the NightLase laser on patients who are good candidates for the treatment and who are likely to experience great results. If he thinks a patient would be better served by using a MAS, CPAP or another snoring treatment, he will recommend that course of treatment instead of the laser.
That being said, Dr Levi is very excited about the opportunities that laser snoring treatment opens up for his eligible patients. This treatment is delivering great results and it works by simply stimulating the body’s natural collagen, meaning it does not cut, remove tissue, leave a scar or hurt the patient at all, and doesn’t require any anesthetic or down time. To book a consultation and find out if you are a good candidate for laser snoring treatment, call Dr Levi’s Sleep Clinic on (02) 9283 1900.
Anybody who has struggled with snoring has probably googled anti-snoring devices in the middle of the night after being kicked out of bed by their partner or waking themselves us from the intensity of their own snores. There’s nothing more tempting than a flashy ad offering to cure your snoring for an extremely reasonable price, but are cheap anti-snore devices worth buying? Dr Levi gives his expert opinion on 10 of the top anti-snore devices on the market for under $100.
How Do They Work?: Mouldable anti-snoring mouthpieces are immersed in boiling water in order to make the plastic malleable, before being placed in the mouth and ‘moulded’ to fit your mouth shape. The idea is that the device brings the lower jaw forward to open the airway, in the same way as Mandible Advancement Splints (MAS).
Dr Levi’s Verdict: Many Sleep Clinic patients have tried these devices and found that they have indeed worked to reduce their snoring for two or three nights, before the plastic loses its shape and a new device is needed. Although they work to reduce snoring during this period, many patients wearing them still are not getting a good night’s sleep because they are so uncomfortable to wear as they have not been truly designed to fit their mouth. Many people also find that the device falls out while they are asleep, adding to their discomfort. If you do try one of these devices and they help to reduce your snoring, that is probably an indication that you are a good candidate for a professionally fitted MAS as a long term solution.
How Do They Work?: The idea of anti-snore chin-straps is that they hold the lower jaw in place so that the mouth stays closed and the lower jaw stays forward, keeping the airway open.
Dr Levi’s Verdict: One of the major issues with using chin straps is that many people cannot breathe through their nose properly, meaning that if their mouth is forced closed, they are actually not taking in enough oxygen. While these devices are very common online, they are never discussed as viable treatment solutions at any industry conferences or seminars and sleep professionals do not generally prescribe them as there is no reliable evidence of their efficacy.
How Do They Work?: These small clip-on nose devices work to open up your nostrils to allow more air to enter through the nose.
Dr Levi’s Verdict: Like many of the other gadgets on the market, these probably aren’t going to do you any harm, but they will only improve your snoring by a maximum of about 5% and often cause significant discomfort. Allowing a little more air to enter through the nose does not address the actual cause of snoring, so while they may help, they will not solve your problem. If you are going to try a nasal dilator, the most effective is the MUTE anti-snoring device, which is more effective and comfortable than the super-cheap options online.
How Do They Work?: These sprays work by reducing nasal congestion to improve airflow.
Dr Levi’s Verdict: Much like the nasal dilators, these sprays will most likely have only a very modest effect on snoring. They might provide relief for very minor problems but will not address real snoring problems. If you are determined to try a spray, ENT’s can prescribe medical strength sprays which will have a noticeably larger effect than something bought online or off the shelf without a prescription.
How Do They Work?: These work by releasing a combination of chemicals designed to lubricate the throat in order to minimise vibration of the soft palate.
Dr Levi’s Verdict: These lozenges will most likely have no effect at all on your snoring. They may have a placebo effect, making you feel that you have slept better, but your partner will probably tell you that you snored just as much as always.
How Do They Work?: These work in the same way as lozenges but they are placed at the back of the throat.
Dr Levi’s Verdict: Their efficacy will be equally as low as that of the lozenges.
How Do They Work?: Nasal strips, like nasal dilators, work to open the nose by squeezing the bridge of the nose.
Dr Levi’s Verdict: They are pretty much the same as nasal dilators in that they will probably offer an extremely modest, most likely unnoticeable effect on snoring.
How Do They Work?: These devices are attached to the tip of the tongue in order to pull your tongue forward during the night, preventing it from flopping backwards and blocking your airway.
Dr Levi’s Verdict: This is a treatment that does actually have some industry support although it is not commonly used by sleep specialists. There is a big issue with the device staying in place and it can easy fall or slip during the night. It is mainly used for people who have a full upper and lower denture and are not happy with using a CPAP machine.
How Do They Work?: Throat rinses work on the same principle as throat lozenges, containing chemicals that lubricate the tissue at the back of the throat.
Dr Levi’s Verdict: You will most likely not notice any improvement in your snoring.
How Do They Work?: Specially moulded pillows aim to position the head in such a way that holds the jaw and tongue in place, keeping the airways open.
Dr Levi’s Verdict: There is no research to suggest that a pillow can cure snoring, although there is discussion around using sleep position to improve snoring. While it is definitely a good idea to have a good quality, supportive, memory foam pillow, buying a dedicated ‘snore pillow’ is not worth the price.
If you are interested in reading a first-hand account of using these devices, a British journalist tried many of those listed in this article himself and documented his experiences here.
While Dr Levi’s Sleep Clinic offers a range of sophisticated treatments to help patients control their snoring, there are certainly a few do-it-yourself exercises which patients can try at home to treat mild snoring and sleep apnoea. In fact, research has shown that snoring may even be treated by singing!
Alise Ojay, a British choir director, claims that a series of routine vocalisations, performed 20 minutes a day over the course of less than a month, can significantly reduce snoring. Her approach is based on the premise that firming up these muscles allows air to pass in and out with less obstruction.
“It is especially important for snorers, and critically important for those suffering from sleep apnoea, to keep their breathing apparatus healthy: they will already be suffering from reduced oxygen intake and need a fit diaphragm to keep on drawing in air despite experiencing an obstruction.” – Alise Ojay, creator, Singing for Snorers
With the help of Edzard Ernst, a professor of complementary medicine at the University of Exeter, Ojay designed and conducted a test study involving 20 subjects following a 3-month-long daily regimen of vocal exercises. The results of the study, revealed that snoring was significantly reduced, especially in subjects who performed the exercises accurately and consistently. This study provides support for the idea that singing can improve snoring by toning the muscles in the throat. If you’d like to tone your throat muscles without singing, here are two throat exercises to try for an at-home anti-snoring workout.
If you want a cure for your snoring, make an appointment for a consultation ($60) with Dr Levi today. He will create a professional, customised solution which will have you sleeping soundlessly.
Call The Sleep and Snore Centre today on 9283 1900 or find out more about the treatments we provide.