Although sleep apnea and insomnia are two different sleep disorders, they both disrupt rest throughout the night.
Insomnia is a problem with falling asleep or staying asleep. At the same time, sleep apnea is an issue with breathing while at rest.
Both issues have long-term harmful effects on your health, so treatment is necessary when you have one or both disorders.
If you have insomnia, the team at Carolina Wellness Psychiatry in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, can help.
Leading our team are two highly experienced psychiatrists and one board-certified psychologist. Dr. Allison Foroobar, Dr. Elizabeth Bullard, and Dr. Sarah Gilbert all provide customized insomnia treatments when you need a good night's sleep.
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a serious sleep problem that happens when there are pauses in your breathing during sleep. The delays may last several seconds or a few minutes, depending on the severity of the problem.
Breathing can pause several times an hour, which leads to loud snoring and restless sleep. However, not everyone who has sleep apnea snores or knows they have the problem in the first place.
Several forms of sleep apnea exist, including obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and central sleep apnea.
OSA is the most prevalent type, causing breathing to pause due to an airway obstruction. For example, excess tissues in your neck or throat can block your airway, leading to pauses in breathing.
CSA happens when there's a miscommunication between the brain and breathing muscles, which leads to a disruption in breathing during sleep.
The facts on insomnia
Insomnia is another sleep disorder characterized by difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep for set periods. It can be either short-term or chronic, brought on by medical issues or lifestyle factors.
Although the main symptom of insomnia is trouble falling asleep and staying asleep, there are other symptoms you may experience from sleep deprivation, which include the following:
- Daytime fatigue
- Behavioral problems
- Trouble concentrating
- Memory problems
- Poor school or work performance
Living with insomnia may prove challenging for you to stay awake during the day, increasing your risk for accidents and injury.
How are the disorders linked?
Sleep apnea and insomnia are sleep disorders that cause issues with your sleep-wake cycle — but are they linked? The answer is yes.
Sleep apnea can cause acute or chronic insomnia, just as insomnia may worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea if you're living with both problems — but how so?
There are various ways these two disorders are linked, including the following:
- Sleep apnea leads to sleep disturbances
- Sleep apnea worsens insomnia by frequent waking
- Sleep deprivation can reduce oxygen saturation
- Insomnia may cause reduced muscle tone in the airway
- Insomnia and sleep deprivation may increase sleep apnea events
Sleeping lightly with insomnia may cause someone with sleep apnea to wake more easily, worsening insomnia symptoms and continuing the sleep deprivation cycle.
Getting treatment for insomnia
Whether you have sleep apnea that's causing insomnia or you're simply struggling through insomnia alone, you must seek treatment. Sleep is vital to your overall health and wellness.
Our team carefully evaluates your symptoms and asks about your sleep habits to develop a personalized treatment plan for insomnia with or without sleep apnea.
If you're living with sleep apnea causing insomnia, the key to treatment is taking care of the underlying disorder. Treatment may include oral appliances, CPAP machines (positive pressure holds the airway open), and reducing alcohol intake before bed.
Insomnia has various other treatments, depending on the root cause of the problem. We recommend lifestyle changes and good sleep hygiene habits to promote a restful night's sleep.
We also offer cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia, focusing on relaxation and promoting healthy sleep habits.
A combination of lifestyle changes and cognitive behavioral therapy is often successful in helping patients with insomnia.
Don't continue to live through sleepless nights; call our office today at 919-446-3232 to schedule an appointment for insomnia treatment, or request a consultation on the website.