2023 Sleep Apnea Research Report | Treatments & Trends

2023 Sleep Apnea Research Report | Treatments & Trends

Darrin Patel -

In this research report, we will walk you through the latest 2023 sleep apnea treatment options, research trends, symptoms, and more.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a common disorder that affects the quality of sleep and can have serious consequences for overall health.

It is characterized by frequent interruptions in breathing during sleep, often accompanied by loud snoring. These interruptions, known as apneic events, can last from a few seconds to several minutes and can occur hundreds of times per night.

Illustration of a person suffering from sleep apnea

Sleep Apnea Treatments

The most common treatment for sleep apnea is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), which involves the use of a machine that delivers a constant flow of air through a mask or nasal pillow to help keep the airway open during sleep.

Other treatments include mandibular advancement devices (MADs), which are worn in the mouth and help to hold the airway open, and surgery, which can help to correct physical abnormalities that may be contributing to the disorder.

2023 Trends and Developments

In recent years, there has been a growing body of research on the use of other non-invasive therapies for the treatment of sleep apnea. These therapies include the use of positional therapy, in which the patient is encouraged to sleep in a certain position (such as on their side) in order to reduce the likelihood of apneic events — and the use of lifestyle modifications, such as weight loss and smoking cessation, to help reduce the severity of the disorder.

Oral Appliances

One of the most promising areas of research in the treatment of sleep apnea is the use of oral appliances.

Sleep Apnea dental oral appliance non-invasive therapy

These appliances, which are similar to MADs, are worn in the mouth during sleep and work by repositioning the jaw and tongue in a way that helps to keep the airway open. There is growing evidence to suggest that oral appliances can be effective in reducing the severity of OSA and may be a suitable alternative to CPAP for some patients.

Non-Invasive Ventilation (NIV)

Another area of research in the treatment of sleep apnea is the use of non-invasive ventilation (NIV). NIV involves the use of a machine that delivers a continuous flow of air to the patient through a mask or nasal pillow, similar to CPAP.

Middle age Asian man wearing CPAP headgear during his sleep

However, unlike CPAP, NIV delivers the air at a lower pressure, which may be more comfortable for some patients. There is evidence to suggest that NIV may be effective in reducing the severity of OSA, particularly in patients with CSA orcomplex sleep apnea syndrome.

Types of Sleep Apnea

There are two main types of sleep apnea: obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and central sleep apnea (CSA).

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)

OSA is the most common form of the disorder. It is caused by a physical blockage of the airway, usually due to the relaxation of the muscles in the throat. This blockage can cause pauses in breathing, known as apneic events, during sleep. OSA is typically treated with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) or other non-invasive therapies such as oral appliances or lifestyle modifications.

Central Sleep Apnea (OSA)

CSA is caused by a failure of the brain to send the proper signals to the muscles that control breathing. This can also result in pauses in breathing during sleep. CSA is less common than OSA and may be more difficult to diagnose, as it is not always accompanied by the loud snoring that is often seen with OSA. CSA is typically treated with non-invasive ventilation (NIV) or other therapies such as oxygen therapy or medications.

Complex Sleep Apnea Syndrome

It is possible to have a combination of OSA and CSA, known as complex sleep apnea syndrome (also sometimes referred to as treatment-emergent central sleep apnea).

This form of the disorder may require a combination of treatments to manage the symptoms effectively.

sleep apnea symptoms

Sleep Apnea Symptoms

The most common symptoms of sleep apnea include:

  • Loud snoring
  • Pauses in breathing during sleep (these may be observed by a bed partner)
  • Gasping or choking during sleep
  • Waking up feeling tired or unrefreshed, even after a full night's sleep
  • Daytime fatigue or drowsiness
  • Difficulty concentrating or staying alert during the day
  • Headaches in the morning
  • Dry mouth or sore throat upon waking
  • Insomnia or difficulty falling asleep
  • Restless sleep or frequent awakenings during the night
  • Mood changes or irritability

It's important to note that many people with sleep apnea may not be aware that they have the disorder, as the symptoms may occur during sleep. Often, it is a bed partner or family member who first notices the symptoms.

If you suspect that you or someone you know may have sleep apnea, it is important to speak with a healthcare provider for proper evaluation and treatment.

sleep apnea risk factors include drinking opioid use and diabetes

Sleep Apnea Risk Factors

The latest sleep apnea research has identified several more risk factors which people should be on the lookout for:

  • Being male — biological males are 2 to 3 times more likely to have sleep apnea than are biological women
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Family history of sleep apnea
  • Over the age of 40
  • Those with larger neck circumferences (greater than 17 inches in males and greater than 16 inches in females)
  • Having a narrow airway or large tonsils and adenoids
  • Those with smaller jaws or more recessed chins
  • Having a deviated septum — or other structural abnormalities in the nose or throat
  • Asthma or other respiratory conditions
  • Using sedatives or alcohol regularly
  • History of smoking
  • High blood pressure or other cardiovascular conditions
  • Diabetes
  • History of stroke or heart attack
  • Taking certain medications that can cause muscle relaxation or sedation (such as opioid painkillers or benzodiazepines)

Note: these risk factors indicate that you're more likely to have sleep apnea, not that you necessarily do. As always, ask your doctor if you need a medical diagnosis.

2023 review state of sleep apnea research

2023 in Review

The State of Sleep Apnea

Overall, the treatment of sleep apnea has come a long way in recent years, and there are now several effective therapies available to help patients manage the disorder and improve their quality of sleep.

While CPAP remains the gold standard of treatment, newer therapies such as oral appliances and NIV offer promising alternatives for patients who may not be able to tolerate or comply with CPAP therapy.

Further research is needed to fully understand the long-term effects of these therapies and to determine the best approach for individual patients.

Pillow Fight does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.