Sleep studies a solid foundation for effective treatment of apnea

Sleep studies a solid foundation for effective treatment of apnea

A lot of factors go into deciding which kind of medical therapy is best for your sleep apnea and at the base of it all is a solid understanding of exactly what is causing your condition. A sleep study, also called polysomnography, helps doctors diagnose various sleep disorders, including the widely common obstructive sleep apnea – that pesky relaxing of the muscles in the neck and throat that contributes to snoring, disrupted sleep, and, over time, a host of serious medical conditions.

Michael Uzelac, D.D.S., founder of Sleep Airway Solutions, which provides oral appliances (similar to retainers) for the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea, uses sleep study data to help his patients.

If a patient presents to him with symptoms of poor sleep, Uzelac will encourage a sleep study to be ordered by the patient’s primary care provider first.

The study involves an overnight stay in a comfortable bedroom-like setting in a sleep lab where technicians or physicians monitor sleep to see what is happening with the brain and the body. Sleep studies are often conducted and interpreted by a neurologist – the type of physician who specializes in the body’s central nervous system. This is because sleep is guided by the brain’s activity.

Before the sleep study begins, the technician will place a variety of censors on the patient’s head, in the form of small pads connected to wires, which are connected to an EEG monitor. The monitor will record the patient’s brain activity while he or she sleeps to help the diagnosing physician understand sleep patterns and when disruptions might occur in the brain. Sensors also record things like eye movement and other body movements. The patient will also have a small monitor clipped to his or her finger to help measure their blood oxygen levels. Excessive snoring and blocked airwaves can contribute to dips in the blood’s oxygen levels.

“By looking at sleep cycles and how the body moves in an out of REM sleep and by measuring all those other things that you can’t see during a normal appointment during the day, doctors can accurately diagnose what is causing sleep disruptions,” Uzelac said. “I use that data-driven approach to help my patients with their sleep problems. The idea is to get to the right solution because sleep disruptions are dangerous to human health over time.”

Once a patient knows their sleep study results, they have a variety of choices for treatment if the culprit is obstructive sleep apnea. C-pap machines, which use forced air to keep neck and throat muscles from collapsing and causing snoring, is as an effective and proven method of treatment. But many patients also are not compliant with the devices, which can be cumbersome during sleep and inconvenient for travel.

Sleep Airway Solutions offers oral appliances that resemble retainers which can help with obstructive sleep apnea by gently pulling the jaw forward during sleep to keep snoring from occurring.

Several of Uzelac’s patients have provided candid review of their oral appliance therapy here.

For more information on whether you need a sleep study, or how Sleep Airway Solutions in Valparaiso may help you if you’ve already had one, call 219-286-6461 or visit

Uzelac is a Diplomat of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine.