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The Inspire Sleep Experience

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most common type of sleep apnea and a widespread sleep disorder. According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), as many as 39 million American adults have some form of OSA, from mild to severe. 

While solutions such as Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) therapy have long been available to address sleep apnea, they aren’t always suitable for all patients. Many people find CPAP uncomfortable, inconvenient, or incompatible with their lifestyle. You may find it a hassle, if not impossible, to sleep with a mask on or while the CPAP machine makes noise. Transporting and repeatedly setting up CPAP equipment while traveling can also be cumbersome.

Fortunately, a new, mask-free treatment for obstructive sleep apnea is now available: the Inspire therapy system. Learn about Inspire, how it differs from other OSA treatments, and how it stacks up compared to alternatives like snoring mouthpieces.

What is Inspire Therapy?

Inspire is a modern medical device designed to treat obstructive sleep apnea symptoms without using a mask and pressurized air equipment, such as a CPAP machine. The Inspire therapy consists of three components: an implant, a remote control, and a mobile app.

  • Inspire implant. The Inspire implant is a type of bionic device implanted under the patient’s skin near the collarbone. The implant is connected to the nerve inside the neck that controls your tongue. 

After surgically installing it into the body and turning it on, the implant’s nerve stimulators deliver gentle electric pulses to the tongue each time you take a breath. These pulses keep your airways open, allowing you to breathe normally and eliminate breathing interruptions while sleeping without needing a mask or a hose.

  • Inspire remote. The remote’s primary purpose is to turn the implant’s generator on or off whenever you need it. You can also adjust the intensity of the implant’s pulses from the remote and check the implant’s battery levels. Before you go to sleep, press the button to activate the implant. Press it again to turn it off and resume your daily activities when you wake up.
  • Inspire mobile app. Inspire Medical Systems, the implant developers, recommends using a companion mobile application alongside the implant and remote. It includes additional features like sleep monitoring and tracking, educational resources on OSA, therapy notifications, and direct lines with sleep specialists.

Who Should Consider the Inspire Implant?

The Inspire implant is primarily designed for people with moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea for whom CPAP treatment is either impossible, unhelpful or otherwise unsuitable. Inspire may be suitable for you if you meet all of the following criteria:

  • Age requirement. You must be 18 years or older to undergo Inspire surgery.
  • You must have moderate to severe OSA. Inspire is intended for individuals with a confirmed OSA diagnosis through a sleep study and an Apnea-Hypopnea Index (AHI) of 20 to 65. It is not designed to treat Central Sleep Apnea (CSA).
  • CPAP doesn’t work for you. You must have tried treating your OSA with a CPAP machine and determined it was unsuitable or ineffective. For example, if you cannot maintain proper sleep quality while a CPAP machine is running or develop claustrophobia from wearing CPAP masks.
  • You have a suitable BMI. Inspire therapy has been tested and approved for use in people with a body mass index (BMI) of up to 40. However, the higher your BMI, the higher the risk of having excess fatty tissues in the neck, which may interfere with the implant. Consult a healthcare provider for more details.
  • Your airway anatomy is compatible with Inspire. You can undergo an examination of your upper airways to determine your compatibility with the implant. A rare number of individuals may have internal anatomy that would make the Inspire implant ineffective.

Benefits of the Inspire Implant

Inspire is considered an effective and relatively risk-free alternative to CPAP treatment for sleep apnea. If you meet the eligibility criteria for the Inspire implant, you can expect the following potential benefits:

  • High effectiveness rate. According to a 12-month study published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), 66% of Inspire patients saw a reduction of AHI events by 50% or more, indicating a strong improvement in breathing quality. 75% of patients on Inspire also experienced a reduction of their Oxygen Desaturation Index (ODI) of 25% or more. ODI measures how frequently an individual’s blood-oxygen levels fall below normal levels for more than 10 seconds.

    Study statistics revealed that the median efficiency per Inspire patient was a 68% reduction in AHI events and a 70% in the ODI score. These scores show Inspire is reliably effective at treating sleep apnea.
  • Healthier life. Proper treatment of OSA through Inspire may reduce the risk of developing medical conditions associated with OSA. These issues include daytime sleepiness, heart diseases like high blood pressure and coronary artery disease (CAD), or heart failure.
  • Trustworthy. Since 2020, Inspire has been the only internal, mask-free OSA treatment approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for all adults in the United States.
  • Maximum comfort. Besides its effectiveness and government approval, the strongest benefit of Inspire for OSA patients is the comfort it brings. Because the system is entirely internal, it eliminates the need to wear an awkward or claustrophobia-inducing CPAP mask. It allows you to fall asleep naturally and without any additional equipment.
  • Discreet and convenient. Once surgically implanted under your skin, the Inspire implant is not visible or uncomfortable. It lets you sleep in any position and wear any clothing you want.

Potential Drawbacks of the Inspire Implant

While Inspire therapy can benefit OSA patients, it carries certain risks and drawbacks that may make it unsuitable for you. The main disadvantages of Inspire include:

  • It is a surgical procedure. All surgical procedures carry a degree of risk, including infections, complications, scars failing to heal correctly, and other side effects. 
  • You cannot recharge the device’s battery. While the Inspire implant is designed to last for approximately 11 years, it is non-rechargeable, and you cannot replace it yourself. You must undergo another surgery to replace the battery unit with a new one.
  • It is a costly solution. The NCOA estimates the Inspire system costs approximately $30,000 to $40,000, making it one of the most expensive sleep apnea treatments. Additionally, insurance coverage may vary widely, and your plan is not guaranteed to cover the device fully. Contact your insurance provider for more information.

Snoring Mouthpieces: An Alternative OSA Treatment to Consider

A snoring mouthpiece, also known as a mandibular advancement device (MDA), is an oral appliance designed to treat loud snoring and OSA. If CPAP machines aren’t for you, here are the main reasons to consider snoring mouthpieces such as the SnoreRx and SnoreRx Plus to treat sleep apnea.

  • Easy to use and non-invasive. Unlike Inspire, which requires surgery, or CPAP machines, which require an electrically powered mask, a snoring mouthpiece is a purely mechanical device. You can simply wear it like a mouthguard before going to sleep.
  • Custom and semi-custom options. Over-the-counter (OTC) mouthpieces often feature adjustable elements and mechanisms such as boil-and-bite to improve their fit to your teeth and jaw. Some models can even be 100% custom-fitted to your mouth’s exact dimensions, maximizing comfort. However, they are typically only available by prescription.

    For example, the SnoreRx is an OTC boil-and-bite model using an advanced design and materials. It is intended to offer as close to a 100% custom fit as possible without the need for a prescription-only model.
  • Portable. Snoring mouthpieces are small, lightweight, and easy to transport. They are an excellent fit for people with active lifestyles or travel frequently.
  • Low-maintenance. Most snoring mouthpieces can be cleaned with little more than your toothbrush and toothpaste. Some models can even be disassembled for deeper cleaning, extending their lifespan. For example, the SnoreRx is designed to be disassembled without tools, making cleaning and maintenance almost effortless.
  • May be a better solution. Depending on the type and severity of your OSA case, a snoring mouthpiece like SnoreRx can offer a more cost-effective solution than the Inspire implant or CPAP machine, potentially making it the best treatment for you.

Retake Control of Your Sleep Quality

While the Inspire implant may be a highly effective solution for treating obstructive sleep apnea without relying on a CPAP machine, the high costs and surgical requirements can make it unappealing or unattainable for the average person. 

Other solutions, such as snoring mouthpieces, can provide the relief you need to improve breathing and sleeping quality without breaking the bank. Visit SnoringMouthpieceGuide.com to learn more about the various mouthpiece devices on the market, and read our reviews to find the product that works best for you.


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