What is Sleep Apnea
apnea is a common disorder that can be very serious. In
sleep apnea, your breathing stops or gets very shallow while
you are sleeping. Each pause in breathing typically lasts 10
to 20 seconds or more. These pauses can occur 20 to 30 times
or more an hour.
The most common type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep
apnea. During sleep, enough air cannot flow into your lungs
through your mouth and nose even though you try to breathe.
When this happens, the amount of oxygen in your blood may
drop. Normal breaths then start again with a loud snort or
When your sleep is upset throughout the night, you can be
very sleepy during the day. With sleep apnea, your sleep is
not restful because:
These brief episodes of increased airway resistance (and
breathing pauses) occur many times.
You may have many brief drops in the oxygen levels in your
You move out of deep sleep and into light sleep several
times during the night, resulting in poor sleep quality.
People with sleep apnea often have loud snoring. However,
not everyone who snores has sleep apnea. Some people with
sleep apnea donít know they snore.
Sleep apnea happens more often in people who are overweight,
but even thin people can have it.
Most people donít know they have sleep apnea. They donít
know that they are having problems breathing while they are
A family member and/or bed partner may notice the signs of
sleep apnea first.
Untreated sleep apnea can increase the chance of having high
blood pressure and even a heart attack or stroke. Untreated
sleep apnea can also increase the risk of diabetes and the
risk for work-related accidents and driving accidents.
Source: National Heart Lung and Blood Institute