Episode 21: Why treat sleep apnea?

Many people are seen to have snoring and periods of stopping breathing during sleep. This is sleep apnea and it’s very common. But does everyone who has sleep apnea need treatment? Recent research suggests that treating sleep apnea doesn’t reduce future cardiovascular risk, but does reduce symptoms of sleepiness and depression. With the help of Prof Doug McEvoy, we discuss the latest research and talk through why to treat sleep apnea.

Dr Moira Junge (Health Psychologist) and Dr David Cunnington (Sleep Physician) host the monthly podcast, Sleep Talk, talking all things sleep.

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Audio Timeline:

  • 00:00 – 02:59  Introduction
  • 02:59 – 07:43 What’s news in sleep?
    • 02:59 – 03:35 Workalert website
    • 03:35 – 04:45 Upcoming release of report on economic impact of sleep disorders
    • 04:45 – 08:36 Sleep in pre-industrial societies
  • 08:36 – 29:50 Theme – Why treat sleep apnea?
    • 08:36 – 11:25 Background – What is obstructive sleep apnea?
    • 11:25 – 13:11 Background – Sleep apnea and cardiovascular risk
    • 13:11 – 22:00 Interview: Prof Doug McEvoy
      • Why was the SAVE study needed?
      • What did the SAVE study show?
      • Where to from here?
    • 22:00 – 29:23 Treating sleep apnea to reduce symptoms and accident risk
    • 29:23 –  29:50 More information on why to treat sleep apnea
  • 29:50 – 30:43 Clinical tip of the month – Ask why treat? What are we hoping to achieve? How will this be measured?
  • 30:43 – 34:00 Pick of the month:
    • 30:43 – 31:46 Moira – Podcast – Shrink Wrap radio – episode on sleep
    • 31:46 – 34:00 David – Book – Blitzed – Drug use in German soldiers in WWII
  • 34:00 – 35:49 What’s coming up in sleep?

Next episode: September 4th – Personalising sleep apnea treatment 

Links mentioned in the podcast:


Guest interviews:

Prof Doug McEvoy is a Practitioner Fellow of the National Health and Medical Research Council, Senior Director of the Adelaide Institute for Sleep Health, Staff Consultant in Sleep and Respiratory Medicine at the Repatriation General Hospital and Flinders Medical Centre, Senior Principal Research Fellow within the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute Heart Health Theme, Member of the Sleep Health Foundation and is a past president of the Australasian Sleep Association. He has had a distinguished career in sleep medicine over the past 30 years. He has led a number of important multi-centre clinical trials in sleep medicine and is the Principal Investigator of the Sleep Apnoea Cardiovascular Endpoints (SAVE) study.

Regular hosts:

Dr Moira Junge

Dr Moira Junge is a health psychologist working in the sleep field, who has considerable experience working with people with sleeping difficulties in a multidisciplinary practice using a team-based approach. Moira has consulted at Melbourne Sleep Disorders Centre since 2008, and is actively involved with the Australasian Sleep Association (ASA). She has presented numerous workshops for psychologists wanting to learn more about sleep disorders, and is involved with Monash University with teaching and supervision commitments, as well as clinical involvement with the Monash University Healthy Sleep Clinic. She is one of the clinic directors at Yarraville Health Group which was established in 1998. In addition to her expertise in sleep disorders, her other areas of interest and expertise include smoking cessation, psychological adjustment to chronic illness, and grief and loss issues.

Dr David CunningtonDr David Cunnington is a sleep physician and director of Melbourne Sleep Disorders Centre, and co-founder and contributor to SleepHub. David trained in sleep medicine both in Australia and in the United States, at Harvard Medical School, and is certified as both an International Sleep Medicine Specialist and International Behavioural Sleep Medicine Specialist. David’s clinical practice covers all areas of sleep medicine and he is actively involved in training health professionals in sleep. David is a regular media commentator on sleep, both in traditional media and social media, and blogs for the Huffington Post on sleep. David’s recent research has been in the area of non-drug, psychologically-based treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness in managing insomnia, restless legs syndrome and other sleep disorders.

Connect with David on Twitter or Facebook.

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Check our resources or take our Sleep Wellness Quiz for a free assessment of elements that may be keeping you from a good night’s sleep.









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