Upon your decision to use Sleep Center of Central Minnesota for your therapy needs, our staff will take you through an extensive education session on the use of CPAP or Bi-Level equipment. The advantage to using Sleep Center of Central Minnesota for your OSA therapy needs is that you will not only have received the most thorough education possible, but you will also be followed very closely by members of our staff. Compliance is a common issue with CPAP therapy; our experience has shown that proper mask fit, and patient education combined with experienced CPAP specialists results in outstanding results and patient compliance.

Ongoing Support

Our compliance program includes follow-up calls made to CPAP/Bi-Level patients at three days, 30 days, 60 days, and every six months after initiation of equipment use. We also offer free mask exchange during the first 30 days to make certain your mask is the best available one for you. We have full-time CPAP Specialists available to help with any ongoing equipment and supply needs. An auto-mail program is also available to interested patients for hassle-free supply replacement. CPAP and Bi-Level therapy equipment and supplies are covered by most insurances.

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts. You may have sleep apnea if you snore loudly and you feel tired even after a full night’s sleep.

Sleep apnea occurs in two main types: obstructive sleep apnea, the more common form that occurs when throat muscles relax, and central sleep apnea, which occurs when your brain doesn’t send proper signals to the muscles that control breathing. Additionally, some people have complex sleep apnea, which is a combination of both. Central sleep apnea is common in patients with a history of congestive heart failure or those who have had a stroke.

Symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea

  • Loud snoring
  • Gasping or choking episodes while sleeping
  • Witnessed episodes of stopped breathing while asleep
  • Excessive sleepiness
  • Trouble concentrating, irritability, depression
  • Morning headaches
  • Frequent urination at night
  • Waking up feeling tired

Symptoms of Central Sleep Apnea

  • Restless sleep
  • Waking up gasping or short of breath
  • Witnessed episodes of stopped breathing while sleeping
  • Non-refreshing sleep
  • Snoring may be absent
  • An alternating pattern of breathing fast and slow

What Causes Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

When you’re awake, throat muscles help keep your airway stiff and open so air can flow into your lungs. When you sleep, these muscles are more relaxed. Normally, the relaxed throat muscles don’t stop your airway from staying open to allow air into your lungs.

But if you have obstructive sleep apnea, your airways can be blocked or narrowed during sleep because:

  • Your throat muscles and tongue relax more than normal.
  • Your tongue and tonsils (tissue masses in the back of your mouth) are large compared to the opening into your windpipe.
  • Being overweight. The extra soft fat tissue can thicken the wall of the windpipe. This causes the inside opening to narrow and makes it harder to keep open. Although thin people can have sleep apnea.
  • The shape of your head and neck (bony structure) may cause a smaller airway size in the mouth and throat area.
  • The aging process limits the ability of brain signals to keep your throat muscles stiff during sleep. This makes it more likely that the airway will narrow or collapse.
  • Not enough air flows into your lungs when your airways are fully or partly blocked during sleep. This can cause loud snoring and a drop in your blood oxygen levels. When the oxygen drops to dangerous levels, it triggers your brain to disturb your sleep. This helps tighten the upper airway muscles and open your windpipe. Normal breaths then start again, often with a loud snort or choking sound. The frequent drops in oxygen levels and reduced sleep quality trigger the release of stress hormones. These compounds raise your heart rate and increase your risk for high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, and irregular heartbeats. The hormones also raise the risk for or worsen heart failure. Untreated sleep apnea also can lead to changes in how your body uses energy. These changes increase your risk for obesity and diabetes.

Who Is at Risk for Sleep Apnea?

It’s estimated that more than 12 million American adults have obstructive sleep apnea. More than half of the people who have this condition are overweight.

Sleep apnea is more common in men. One out of 25 middle-aged men and 1 out of 50 middle-aged women have sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea becomes more common as you get older. At least 1 out of 10 people over the age of 65 has sleep apnea. Women are much more likely to develop sleep apnea after menopause.

African Americans, Hispanics, and Pacific Islanders are more likely to develop sleep apnea than Caucasians.

If someone in your family has sleep apnea, you’re more likely to develop it.

People who have small airways in their noses, throats, or mouths also are more likely to have sleep apnea. Smaller airways may be due to the shape of these structures or allergies or other medical conditions that cause congestion in these areas.

Small children often have enlarged tonsil tissues in the throat. This can make them prone to developing sleep apnea.

Other risk factors for sleep apnea include smoking, high blood pressure, and risk factors for stroke or heart failure.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Sleep Apnea?

One of the most common signs of obstructive sleep apnea is loud and chronic (ongoing) snoring. Pauses may occur in the snoring. Choking or gasping may follow the pauses.

The snoring usually is loudest when you sleep on your back; it may be less noisy when you turn on your side. Snoring may not happen every night. Over time, the snoring may happen more often and get louder.

You’re asleep when the snoring or gasping occurs. You will likely not know that you’re having problems breathing or be able to judge how severe the problem is. Your family members or bed partner will often notice these problems before you do.

Not everyone who snores has sleep apnea.

Another common sign of sleep apnea is fighting sleepiness during the day, at work, or while driving. You may find yourself rapidly falling asleep during the quiet moments of the day when you’re not active.

Other signs and symptoms of sleep apnea may include:

  • Morning headaches
  • Memory or learning problems and not being able to concentrate
  • Feeling irritable, depressed, or having mood swings or personality changes
  • Urination at night
  • A dry throat when you wake up

In children, sleep apnea can cause hyperactivity, poor school performance, and aggressiveness. Children who have sleep apnea also may have unusual sleeping positions, bedwetting, and may breathe through their mouths instead of their noses during the day.

Ask Yourself These 5 Questions

  1. Do you snore?
  2. Are you excessively tired during the day?
  3. Have you been told you stop breathing during sleep?
  4. Do you have a history of hypertension (high blood pressure)?
  5. Is your neck size more than 17″ (male) or more than 16″ (female)?

If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, you may be at risk for sleep apnea.

Informational Videos

Here is a link to the Mayo Clinic Video that shows what happens during obstructive sleep apnea.

Here is a link to the Mayo Clinic video that shows how CPAP controls sleep apnea.

For more information please visit one of these websites:

Appointments may be made through a referral or by calling (218) 454-0225