Winx Offers Sleep Apnea Patients Relief From Traditional Treatments


Scott Christie wants help getting a good night’s sleep.

He said it has been 13 years since he feels like he has gotten a restful night of sleep.

Technician Mike Lerner straps sensors over Christie’s body for an overnight test at Ohio Sleep Medicine.

“Noon, I’m yawning. I actually yawn during the morning meetings, as a matter of fact,” Christie said. “And in the afternoon, I get really restless. If I could sneak off and take a nap, I would.”

Dr. Markus Schmidt said sleep problems increase as people age.

“Fifteen percent of middle-aged men and about 25 percent of everybody over the age of 65 has a breathing problem in sleep,” Schmidt said. “It’s very, very common.”

Christie, who has sleep apnea, stops breathing and wakes up multiple times a night.

Schmidt said the best treatment is the C-PAP that uses a mask and hose to blow air into the nose and inflate the airway.

But not everyone can handle the treatment.

“They may have claustrophobia issues. They may have some difficulty with the C-PAP having the mask on the face,” Schmidt said.

When patients like Christie comes in for a test, the doctor also checks him or her out for the newest alternative – the Winx.

It’s smaller and quitter, with a cord and mouthpiece that creates a small vacuum.

“It pulls the tongue and the soft palate forward, so it opens up that airway behind the tongue to allow the patient to breathe naturally,” Schmidt said. “We’re actually trying to incorporate it in the first night evaluation.”

Christie said that he was not crazy about the idea of being hooked up to a machine.

“But if it gives me a good night’s rest, I’m game,” he said.

Schmidt said the Winx works very well for 43 percent of patients and not at all for others.  

He said he thinks the shape of the soft palate and tongue may have something to do with it.

Though the Winx is approved by the FDA, doctors say more research is needed.

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