Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome (UARS)
Sleep Problems: Page 7
Sort of a milder cousin of sleep apnea, UARS occurs when some type of resistance slows or blocks air in the nasal passages. The most common causes are mild nasal congestion or a tongue position during sleep that blocks breathing. Because the resistance makes it harder work simply to breathe, your body is half-waking up over and over again during the night, so you don't feel refreshed in the morning.
If you have a narrow face, small jaw, thin neck, or you wore braces as a child for overcrowded teeth, you're more likely to have UARS. If you've found over the years that you simply can't sleep on your back without waking up, it's likely that the reason is UARS.
What to do: Many people benefit from breathing strips, such as Breathe Right strips, or the nasal dilator Nozovent. Other self-care steps to try include irrigating the nasal passages with a saline nasal spray and taking a nonsedating allergy medication such as Claritin if you suspect congestion from allergies.
Ask your doctor for a referral to an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist, who can evaluate whether you're a candidate for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP), a specially designed nasal mask that prevents your nasal passages from collapsing and delivers air directly into your airway. If tongue position during sleep is causing your UARS, the doctor may recommend a dental device that pushes the jaw and tongue forward and prevents the tongue from blocking the opening to the throat.