What Is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a common disorder in which you have
one or more pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while you sleep.
Breathing pauses can last from a few seconds to
minutes. They often occur 5 to 30 times or more an hour.
Typically, normal breathing then starts again, sometimes with a loud snort or
Sleep apnea usually is a chronic (ongoing) condition
that disrupts your sleep 3 or more nights each week. You often move out of deep
sleep and into light sleep when your breathing pauses or becomes shallow.
This results in poor sleep quality that makes you
tired during the day. Sleep apnea is one of the leading causes of excessive
Sleep apnea often goes undiagnosed. Doctors usually
can't detect the condition during routine office visits. Also, there are no
blood tests for the condition.
Most people who have sleep apnea don't know they
have it because it only occurs during sleep. A family member and/or bed partner
may first notice the signs of sleep apnea.
The most common type of sleep apnea is obstructive
sleep apnea. This most often means that the airway has collapsed or is blocked
during sleep. The blockage may cause shallow breathing or breathing pauses.
When you try to breathe, any air that squeezes past
the blockage can cause loud snoring. Obstructive sleep apnea happens more often
in people who are
but it can affect anyone.
Central sleep apnea is a less common type of sleep
apnea. It happens when the area of your brain that controls your breathing
doesn't send the correct signals to your breathing muscles. You make no effort
to breathe for brief periods.
Central sleep apnea often occurs with obstructive
sleep apnea, but it can occur alone. Snoring doesn't typically happen with
central sleep apnea.
This article mainly focuses on obstructive sleep
Untreated sleep apnea can:
Lifestyle changes, mouthpieces, surgery, and/or
breathing devices can successfully treat sleep apnea in many people.