Sleep Disorders



Sleep disorders

Sleep disorders are conditions that affect your ability to have sustained, restful sleep. Sleep disorders can be frustrating and exhausting in the short-term, and in the long-term can result in chronic fatigue, high blood pressure, stroke and apnoea-related deaths. 

Sleep disordered breathing (SDB) describes a group of sleep disorders characterised by abnormal pauses in breathing or quantity of airflow during sleep. Three out of 10 people suffer from sleep disordered breathing, with the most common sleep disorder, obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA), affecting 17% of adults.  


Snoring is often dismissed as nothing more than a nuisance, but it is typically the result of dysfunctional breathing patterns that can lead to far more serious issues.

During normal breathing, the muscles of the throat and mouth hold the airway open to allow air to pass through smoothly and quietly. During sleep, these muscles relax, but should still allow the smooth passage of air. In cases of snoring, smooth passage of air through the airways is obstructed, leading to the audible vibrations that we call snoring.

It is estimated that 8–12% of children are affected by snoring. Mild OSA and/or snoring in children are associated with a number of significant health risks, including developmental delay, growth failure, behavioural problems, learning deficits and pulmonary hypertension as well as having an impact on neurocognitive function.

Sleep apnoea

Similar to snoring, sleep apnoea occurs due to the obstruction of air moving through a person’s airways. However, sleep apnoea is the condition of complete blocking of the airways, meaning no air can pass through. When this occurs, the body is unable to breathe, and the natural response is to send a signal to the brain to “wake up!”. This means an individual will wake up dozens (and often more) of times throughout the night (often with no recollection of doing so), leading to poor sleep patterns, chronic tiredness and related fatigue conditions. As sleep apnoea gets more severe, symptoms can lead to a failure to wake up altogether. Serious sleep apnoea can be life-threatening.

Treating sleep disorders

Orofacial myology treats these conditions with a comprehensive and holistic approach often in conjunction with other health specialists, allowing you to return to natural, peaceful sleeping patterns, without disruptions of snoring or sleep apnoea.

Treatment exercises strengthen your muscles, training you to breathe through your nose, have the correct tongue rest posture and maintain lip seal, which helps to keep your airways open.

Rochelle is highly experienced in treating sleep disorders in adults. Get in touch to make an appointment to discuss your sleep issues and options for treatment.

Case Study

In March 2016 I began suffering from a sleep disorder. ‘Something’ (my tongue) was catching at the back of my throat every time I fell asleep and was waking me up. I was living a nightmare.

A sleep study showed that I had moderate sleep apnoea. I was unable to use a CPAP machine and was desperate. 

I turned to a litany of specialists. Since I believed that anxiety was exacerbating the issue, I turned to a hypnotherapist and two psychologists, which helped a little.  I also saw three ENTs, a gastroenterologist, and two sleep centres.  None of these helped.  Finally a dentist specializing in sleep issues recommended a myofunctional therapist. The one I saw first was only interested in selling me a contraption to wear every night and to change my diet (which was fairly healthy anyway.) I then found Rochelle McPherson, who, after listening to my desperate story, examined my mouth and gave me very specific exercises, mainly for my tongue. 

After a short time conscientiously practising the exercises, I noticed a change.  The tongue issue was happening less frequently. Rochelle ‘weaned’ me away from her care as I continued to improve, and I diligently continued the daily 10-minute exercises. 

Last week Rochelle said goodbye to me, as I was now sleeping perfectly well.  As a side bonus, my jawline has ‘normalized’ as I am now placing my tongue in the correct position.  Extraordinary!

Thank-you, Rochelle, for giving me back my life.

Dorith, 56, Rose Bay