Living the dream: a good night’s sleep

There’s more than one kind of sleep apnea, and the treatment plans are drastically different

The Surrey Sleep Clinic diagnoses and treats sleep disorders. Their services are funded by MSP with physician referral.

The Surrey Sleep Clinic diagnoses and treats sleep disorders. Their services are funded by MSP with physician referral.

How have you been sleeping?

The stress of the past year has given us all reasons to toss and turn, and that can have serious effects on our health.

Has your sleep partner noticed that you’re not sleeping, or snoring more than usual? Do you have a headache when you wake up, or feel tired during the day? Dr. Avinder Minhas from the Surrey Sleep Clinic says these are common signs of obstructive sleep apnea.

Two kinds of sleep apnea

Apnea is a pause in breathing, and it’s considered significant if it lasts for more than ten seconds at a time and occurs more than five times an hour.

  • Obstructive sleep apnea: A pause in breathing caused by a temporary throat obstruction. People with OSA are often noisy sleepers (snoring).
  • Central sleep apnea: A pause in breathing that happens when your brain doesn’t send the proper signals to your diaphragm at the right time.

Dr. Minhas says most people who have sleep apnea have obstructive sleep apnea. Central sleep apnea is very common if you have heart problems (Cheyne Stokes respiration) or neurological problems, and if you take opiates (Biot’s respiration). More than 30 per cent of people with heart failure and atrial fibrillation and those on opiate treatment have central sleep apnea. These patients are also at increased risk for obstructive sleep apnea. It is crucial to receive the appropriate diagnosis and treatment.

“Patients with central sleep apnea won’t respond to regular treatment, which usually involves sleeping with a CPAP machine. It may work for some patients, but it can also make the central apnea worse — sometimes worsening the problem tenfold.”

Some doctors wrongly prescribe CPAP machines for central sleep apnea without doing a proper assessment, or referring patients to a sleep lab like the Surrey Sleep Clinic for further tests. And that can have serious consequences.

“Sleep disorders should be dealt with scientifically, not blindly,” Dr. Minhas says.

FURTHER READING: Surrey’s Sleep Laboratory is helping you catch those ZZZs

Know the risks

While central sleep apnea is generally less common, the risk is much greater among patients who have heart disease or use opioids like oxycodone, methadone, etc.

“The data shows that people who use prescription opioids have a high risk of dying in their sleep, even on a stable dose. Is it because of central sleep apnea? It’s hard to know, but it’s important that people recognize these risks,” Dr. Minhas says.

For those with severe obstructive sleep apnea, the risk of falling asleep while driving is very high, which is one of many reasons it’s important to seek treatment instead of just ‘toughing it out.’

“Seeing a specialist helps patients receive an accurate diagnosis, and it also helps with treatment compliance,” Dr. Minhas says. “It’s so important to do the proper follow-up, to make sure patients are able to stick to their treatment plan.”

Surrey Sleep Clinic services are funded by MSP with a physician referral. On your first visit you’ll meet with a physician to discuss your symptoms. If needed, you may be referred to the Sleep Lab for further testing.

Learn more at or call 604-372-0133.

HealthHealth and wellness


Visit Dr. Avinder Minhas from Surrey Sleep Clinic for an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment for sleep disorders including sleep apnea.

Visit Dr. Avinder Minhas from Surrey Sleep Clinic for an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment for sleep disorders including sleep apnea.

Just Posted

The emergency department at Peace Arch Hospital in White Rock, B.C., in July 2020. (Black Press Media)
Peace Arch Hospital Foundation reaches $12 million goal

New operating suites to open this fall

The RCMP logo is seen outside Royal Canadian Mounted Police “E” Division Headquarters, in Surrey, B.C., on April 13, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Surrey RCMP asking for dash-cam video of ‘suspicious incident’

Incident involves a newer model Toyota Rav 4 SUV

Surrey RCMP are investigating a “serious” collision near Cloverdale Saturday evening. (Curtis Kreklau photo)
Surrey RCMP investigating ‘serious’ collision in Cloverdale

Witness says vehicle collided with utility pole at approximately 9:30 p.m.

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
‘It’s been a good week’: Tam hopeful on vaccines as pandemic anniversary nears

Tam says the addition of two new vaccines will help Canadians get immunized faster

The Kimber family of Boston Bar lost their home in a fire. Blaine Kimber’s daughter created a fundraiser to help rebuild the home with the goal of $100,000. (Screenshot/GoFundMe)
Fundraiser created for Boston Bar family that lost everything in weekend fire

Witnesses say the Kimber family escaped the fire without injury, but their home is a total loss

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

Pictures and notes in from friends and classmates make up a memorial in support and memory of Aubrey Berry, 4, and her sister Chloe, 6, during a vigil held at Willows Beach in Oak Bay, B.C., on December 30, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Mother of slain daughters supports recent changes to Canada’s Divorce Act

Sarah Cotton-Elliott said she believed her children took a back seat to arranging equal parenting

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

The family of injured Willoughby resident Ronald Gerald Jesso is hoping someone saw something that will help solve the mystery of how he came to be so badly hurt on the morning of Feb. 22. Jesso is still in hospital. (Jesso family/Special to Langley Advance Times)
An appeal to help solve the mystery of an injured Langley man

Family of Ronald Gerald Jesso asks witnesses to come forward

Most Read