Written by Brianna Graham
August 15, 2023
Getting restful sleep is hard enough under ideal circumstances, especially if you’re a light sleeper. Noise, light, and other minor distractions wake people in the middle of the night. Add in an obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) diagnosis—which often causes snoring—and things can get even more complicated. The gold standard treatment for OSA is sleeping with a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) or bilevel positive airway pressure (BiPAP) machine. These machines force air into your lungs to prevent your airway from collapsing and obstructing your airway while you sleep. CPAP machines are very effective and safe, but lots of people who have OSA don’t use them—almost half of patients stop using CPAP machines after a year. And it’s not surprising since the machines can be noisy and uncomfortable, and that’s on top of their expensive sale price. With these things in mind, it’s no surprise that other treatments are now available. Some patients who can’t tolerate a CPAP are tackling their sleep apnea with other treatment options like oral appliances and surgical interventions, like Inspire.
What is Inspire?
If you’re one of the many adults who have OSA and struggle to sleep with a CPAP or BIPAP machine, Inspire is an alternative treatment option. Instead of sleeping with a mask and hose, you can get an Inspire device surgically inserted from your chin, down your neck and into your chest. Since it’s a surgical intervention, Inspire can be more difficult than a CPAP machine. It’s also a new product, so long term effects and complications are unknown. However, it reduces the impact of obstructive sleep apnea without the need to use CPAP or other sleep apnea treatments. You simply turn the device on at bedtime using a remote and lay down for a good night’s rest.
How does Inspire work?
The Inspire device stimulates the muscles in your airway to make sure it doesn’t collapse while you sleep. It also pushes your tongue forward so it can’t fall to the back of your throat and obstruct your breathing. As a result, Inspire reduces sleep apnea symptoms by almost 80%. Turning it on is simple and convenient. Your device is paired with a remote that allows you to turn it on at bedtime and off when you wake up. You don’t have to keep it on unless you’re sleeping. Inspire is battery operated. Most patients use their Inspire for about 11 years before the battery needs to be replaced. If your Inspire needs a new battery, your doctor can replace it during an outpatient procedure.
Who is eligible for Inspire?
Not everyone who has sleep apnea is eligible for an Inspire device. Anyone who can use positive airway pressure (PAP) therapy is ineligible because that’s the best course of treatment for sleep apnea. Children and people who are significantly obese aren’t eligible for Inspire either. People who have moderate or severe obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and can’t or won’t sleep while using PAP therapy are ideal candidates for Inspire—but they have to try using PAP therapy first. If they aren’t able to tolerate it, then Inspire is an option they can consider. Inspire works by stimulating the muscles in the airway to prevent it from collapsing, like in OSA. It doesn’t work for people who have central sleep apnea (CSA) because they stop breathing when the brain fails to send signals that tell them to breathe. Stimulating the muscles in the airway won’t encourage their brain to send those signals.
How long after surgery can I use Inspire?
You have to wait until you’re fully recovered to use your Inspire device. In most cases, recovery is pretty straightforward. It’s an outpatient procedure, which means you can go home the same day of surgery—there’s no need for most patients to stay in the hospital. Most patients recover in a few days and only need over the counter pain medicine to ease their discomfort. You’ll visit your doctor 30 days after surgery to turn on your Inspire device. There are different settings that your doctor can adjust to make sure you get your best night’s sleep.
Learn more about Inspire at Lofta
Not sure if Inspire is right for you? The team at Lofta can help. The Lofta Home Sleep Test is a great step to learn more about your sleep apnea and start your journey towards Inspire if it’s a potential solution for you. The Lofta Home Sleep Test is an industry standard sleep test and you can review this data with your doctor to discuss different treatment options. If CPAP or BiPAP is recomended, Lofta is a great source to start with those therapies. Transitioning to a CPAP or BiPAP takes some adjustments, which our CPAP coaches can assist with. And if you don’t respond well, we can help you figure out if you’re an ideal candidate for Inspire.