Sleep Disorders

The UAB Department of Otolaryngology (ear, nose, and throat) provides care for patients suffering from sleep-disordered breathing, including primary snoring and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Both primary snoring and OSA are common conditions that can have a significant negative impact on quality of life. In addition, untreated OSA has been shown to increase the risk of automobile accidents, hypertension, stroke, heart attack, and even sudden death in some cases.

Individuals who have disruptive snoring, pauses in breathing while asleep, or excessive daytime sleepiness should undergo a formal sleep study to determine whether they are affected by sleep-disordered breathing. Patients found to have snoring that doesn’t significantly interfere with sleep are diagnosed with primary snoring, and frequently they are referred back to ENT for further treatment. Those found to have a more severe condition, in which breathing impairment leads to sleep disruption, are diagnosed with OSA.

Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy is considered the most effective treatment for OSA. Patients who undergo an overnight sleep study at UAB often receive both diagnosis and treatment during the study, which allows CPAP therapy to be initiated during a single night of testing in many patients. While CPAP therapy is highly effective for the treatment of OSA, it is often poorly tolerated. A good physician-patient relationship is a crucial factor in maximizing compliance and tolerability of CPAP. Unfortunately, almost 50% of patients fail CPAP therapy despite the best efforts of both patient and provider. For these patients, an experienced sleep specialist physician with knowledge of non-CPAP options is essential to ensure that patients receive the treatment they need.

The UAB Department of Otolaryngology offers a wide range of treatments for patients suffering from snoring and OSA. We strongly believe that successful surgical treatment of OSA starts with accurate identification of the pattern of airway obstruction, followed by the development of a comprehensive, individualized treatment plan tailored to the patient’s specific needs and goals. In addition to an in-office physical examination, we may use an endoscopy procedure (with the patient under sedation) to improve the accuracy of our diagnosis.

Surgical treatments can vary from procedures such as nasal surgery, aimed at improving CPAP compliance and tolerability, to multilevel airway procedures designed to address all identified areas of airway obstruction. We treat OSA using the latest techniques and technology, including robotic-assisted surgery and nerve stimulation.


The UAB Medicine Otolaryngology (Ear, Nose, and Throat, or ENT) Clinic provides comprehensive management of disorders involving the ears, nose, sinuses, mouth, throat, and neck, including sleep disorders. Our staff includes some of the nation’s most skilled physicians and surgeons – many who are fellowship-trained – and our ENT program is consistently ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of the best of its kind in the country.

UAB was an early leader in sleep medicine, receiving its first accreditation from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine in 1986. The UAB Sleep/Wake Disorders Center is active in clinical trials and research into topics such as the relationship of sleep disorders to obesity, new therapies for restless legs syndrome, and how obstructive sleep apnea impacts some forms of high blood pressure. This led the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to present us with a coveted Sleep Academic Award.

Thanks to our extensive expertise, patients with difficult sleep problems are referred from throughout Alabama to the UAB Sleep/Wake Disorders Center. This state-of-the-art facility within UAB Hospital-Highlands offers the convenience of easy access and free parking. A significant advantage of coming to UAB is that patients do not have to wait several weeks for test results after an overnight sleep study; the results – along with a diagnosis, treatment plan, and any prescriptions – are provided the morning after the study. Patients usually are able to leave by 9 am the following morning.

UAB has no financial ties to durable medical equipment (DME) companies who sell or service sleep products or CPAP/BiPAP devices. Patients are free to choose their own provider.


Related Conditions

Listed below are some conditions that may be related to or share some similarities with the condition addressed on this page.

Related Treatments

There are several ways to diagnose and treat this condition. The team at UAB Medicine will work with you to develop an appropriate care plan for you that may include medical and surgical procedures and treatments listed below.


UAB is an active participant in research and clinical trials for the diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders. We encourage you to speak to your physician about research and clinical trial options and browse the link below for more information.

View Clinical Trials