Sleep specialists recommend a variety of therapies and treatments. Foremost among them is the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CPT-i). This therapy method necessitates creating a list of behavioral and cognitive patterns. During the therapy session, the patient’s behavior is assessed and categorized including stressors. Information gathered is grouped according to the 3P model for insomnia: predisposing factors, precipitating factors, and perpetuating factors. Park explains, “Precipitating factors disappear with time. We look at perpetuating habits such as remaining in bed but unable to fall asleep. After 20 minutes, get out of bed. You don’t want to associate bed with being awake.â€ Lifestyle changes are important in mitigating symptoms of sleep apnea. Bed, Park insists, is only for sleeping and sex, not for eating, television watching, or using phones and laptops. Late night eating also contributes to insomnia as the process of digestion interrupts the sleep pattern. It also perpetuates breathing challenges. And too much light at night prevents a rise in melatonin levels resulting in a delay and disruption of the normal sleep cycle.
Choice of a specific treatment depends on the patient’s diagnosis, medical and psychiatric history, and preferences. One of the most common methods used to diagnose sleep apnea and determine its severity is a sleep study, which may require an overnight stay at a sleep center. The sleep study monitors a variety of functions during sleep including sleep state, eye movement, muscle activity, heart rate, respiratory effort, airflow, and blood oxygen levels, through the use of a continuous positive airway pressure mask (CPAP), which fits over the nose and/or mouth. Another method of treating sleep apnea that Park uses is a dental appliance, worn at night, which pushes the lower jaw and tongue forward and thereby opens the airway.
(Continued on next page)