Episode 22: How to treat sleep apnea

How to treat sleep apnea

Sleep apnea is common and can cause significant symptoms. But how can it be treated and how do you decide what treatment to use?  Historically treatment choices have been made based on the severity of sleep apnea. However, treatment can be more personalised by assessing airway anatomy and physiology. With the help of Prof Stuart Mackay and Dr Brad Edwards, we discuss the latest research and talk through how 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 – 00:56  Introduction
  • 00:56 – 08:48 What’s news in sleep?
    • 00:56 – 07:15 Asleep on the Job report
    • 07:15 – 08:48 Sleep and Golden Door Health Retreat
  • 08:48 – 43:50 Theme – How to treat sleep apnea?
    • 08:48 – 09:52 Background – Why treat obstructive sleep apnea?
    • 09:52 – 13:11 Background – What are the options?
      • 09:52 – 10:40 What doesn’t work?
      • 10:40 – 14:22 Lifestyle factors
      • 14:22 – 17:15 Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP)
      • 17:15 – 19:30 Oral appliances
      • 19:30 – 22:53 Surgery – Prof Stuart Mackay
    • 22:53 – 24:07 Choosing sleep apnea treatment based on severity
    • 24:07 – 28:40 Assessing the anatomy to determine treatment – Prof Stuart Mackay
    • 28:40 – 41:03 – Using physiology to determine treatment – Dr Brad Edwards
    • 41:03 – 43:15 Incorporating personal preference in to treatment choices
    • 43:15 –  43:50 More information on how to treat sleep apnea
  • 43:50 – 34:00 Pick of the month:
    • 43:50 – 45:56 David – Using architecture, design and materials to make a bedroom sanctuary
    • 45:56 – 47:48 Moira – Blue light and effect on sleep in athletes
  • 47:48 – 49:49 What’s coming up in sleep?

Next episode: Oct 2nd – Sleep in special needs children 

Links mentioned in the podcast:


Guest interviews:

Stuart MackayProf Stuart Mackay completed his medical degree at the University of NSW in 1998, graduating with honours. His Fellowship in Otolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery was completed in 2006. In 2007 he completed a Fellowship in Airway Reconstruction Surgery for Snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnoea. In 2008 Prof MacKay started the Illawarra Multidisciplinary Sleep Apnoea Team Meeting and acts as the Chair, holding monthly patient reviews with various other specialists and allied health staff. He also has been an invited speaker and chair of Snoring and Sleep Apnoea Panels nationally and internationally. Stuart is actively involved in teaching as both Professor and Examiner at the University of Wollongong Medical School and is a member of the Australasian Sleep Association and its clinical committee. Stuart practices in Wollongong at Illawarra ENT.

Brad EdwardsDr Brad Edwards completed his PhD in respiratory physiology at Monash University in 2009. Following his PhD, Dr. Edwards pursued post-doctoral studies at Harvard Medical School (Boston, USA) focused on understanding the pathogenesis of obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA). During his postdoctoral studies at Harvard, he assisted in the development of the technique to ‘phenotype’ the underlying causes of OSA and has also been the project leader on several studies that have tested novel therapies targeting these individual phenotypic traits as a potential treatment alternatives. Dr. Edwards has now returned to Monash University as a Senior Research Fellow where he aims to expand his team and respiratory physiology/sleep medicine research program.


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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  • Julie Saldana

    When I was student, I read about sleep apnea and this document told that at that time no treatment for sleep apnea. I wondered a lot about this problem coz I know sleep apnea effect to healthy a lot. Thank for your sharing!

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