March 12, 2024

Treatment Options For Sleep Apnoea: What Works Best For Men?

Treatment Options For Sleep Apnoea: What Works Best For Men?

Sleep apnoea is a chronic condition resulting in breathing interruptions while asleep. When you stop breathing, the brain automatically intervenes, causing you to wake up - which induces an interrupted sleep cycle.

The additional stress on your heart can increase the risks of cardiovascular disease, but there are treatment options available.

In this guide, we'll explore them in more detail, and reveal which treatments are most effective for men.

The facts on sleep apnoea

There are three types of sleep apnoea, with each causing different symptoms:

Obstructive: Obstructive sleep apnoea is the most common variant, and it occurs when there's a blockage in the airways. The throat muscles relax more than they should, resulting in restricted breathing.

Central: With central sleep apnoea, the brain doesn't send signals to the muscles, which results in the individual being unable to breathe.

Mixed: Some people might have both forms of sleep apnoea, which means they're exposed to more symptoms.

How common is the condition?

According to the Sleep Apnoea Trust, around 3.5 million people in the UK have a moderate to severe form of the condition, and the BMJ estimates it occurs in 4% of men.

While women can develop the condition, it's more common in men, with higher rates of hospital admissions (Statista).

In recent years, the rates of sleep apnoea have tripled, which correlates with the UK's rise in obesity (NIHR).

Sleep apnoea symptoms

Sleep apnoea is a complex condition that can cause a range of symptoms. Unfortunately, some are easier to spot than others, and many people don't know they're suffering from sleep apnoea at first.

Common symptoms include:

  • Snoring: Some people don't experience any snoring with sleep apnoea. Being a frequent snorer doesn't mean you have the condition, either.
  • Lethargy: If you never wake up feeling refreshed or experience excessive tiredness during the day, it could be because your sleep patterns are interrupted.
  • Cognitive Issues: Due to the lack of sleep, it's common to have a lack of concentration, mood changes and lower cognitive functioning.
  • Issues Staying Asleep: Waking up repeatedly throughout the night is the biggest sign of sleep apnoea, as your brain is making sure you breathe.
  • Cheyne-Stokes Breathing: People with central sleep apnoea might experience CSB patterns, which results in fast and shallow breaths.

Diagnosing sleep apnoea

treatment options for sleep apnoea

As with all sleep disorders, your doctor will run tests to determine what's causing your symptoms. There are two main tests available for diagnosing sleep apnoea:

  • Polysomnograms: Also known as an overnight sleep study, you'll go to a special facility where specialists will monitor your sleeping patterns and identify whether you stop breathing.
  • Home tests: Doctors can't use a home test to diagnose the condition, but they can look for abnormal results and ask you to attend a polysomnogram.

Treatment options for sleep apnoea

Unfortunately, while there's no magic medicine that cures sleep apnoea, the good news is that there are numerous treatments available to minimise your symptoms and help you enjoy a better night's sleep.

Depending on your symptoms and severity, your specialist might recommend one of the following treatments - or a combined approach.

Lifestyle changes

There's a strong link between obstructive sleep apnoea and obesity due to the extra fat deposits that can restrict the airways (Sleep Foundation). Losing weight is one of the most effective ways to reduce the symptoms associated with the condition.

Whether through healthy eating, exercise, or a combination, weight loss will reduce your total body fat, easing the pressure off your body.

Specialists also recommend moderating alcohol usage and not using strong sleeping tablets, as both can worsen the symptoms.

Sleep alterations

Mild cases of sleep apnoea are often treatable with minor changes to your nighttime routine. For example, sleeping on your back can aggravate the condition, but special pillows can elevate your head, stopping soft tissue from pressing your windpipe.

Nasal strips can also reduce snoring and help you get more air through the nose. However, these treatments are usually best for mild cases.

Positive airway pressure (PAP)

PAP treatment is advisable for moderate to severe cases of sleep apnoea as it boosts air pressure when you inhale. Users wear a mask covering the mouth, nose, or both areas, with a hose delivering pressure into their airways.

There are different types of machines, but the most popular is the CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine. It ensures consistent air pressure delivery and can boost men's health by regulating sleep patterns.

Nerve stimulation

Nerve stimulation devices stimulate the hypoglossal nerve (below the tongue) or phrenic nerves with central sleep apnoea. It pushes the tongue forward while you're sleeping, preventing it from constricting the windpipe.

While this form of treatment can be beneficial, they require an implant, which can be invasive. For that reason, many people prefer CPAP treatment as it's less extreme.


If blockages in your throat or nose are causing the sleep apnoea symptoms, surgical procedures can be beneficial. The most popular treatments include removing the tonsils, reducing soft tissue from the windpipe, and removing the uvula.

Nasal and jaw surgery can also be viable treatment options, but the surgery itself is risky - especially for overweight people. With the additional recovery time, opting for these procedures is often a last resort.

Which treatment works best for men?

There's no set answer here because the best treatments for you depend on the severity of your sleep apnoea and personal preferences.

Lifestyle changes should always factor into your treatment, as weight loss can reduce your symptoms and prevent sleep apnoea from occurring frequently.

CPAP treatment is the most effective - and least invasive - solution. While you have to wear a mask, many men would agree it's better than implants or surgery.

The bottom line

Sleep apnoea can significantly impact your health and wellbeing, but there are ways to reduce the symptoms and enhance your sleep quality. The first step in dealing with the condition is seeking support from specialists.

The Eden Clinic for Men offers a range of diagnostic tests and treatments for sleep apnoea. We specialise in men's health and treat each patient individually. Please book an appointment today.

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