What is sleep apnea?
Put simply, you stop breathing when you sleep. Apnea is Greek for ‘without breath’.
Sleep Apnea occurs when you repeatedly stop breathing while you sleep. You can stop breathing for up to sixty seconds or longer and it can happen hundreds of times throughout the night. When your breathing stops, your brain briefly arouses you from sleep to resume breathing. Consequently, your sleep is fragmented and unfulfilled. This explains why you wake up tired and feel tired most of the day.
Sleep Apnea is quite common and usually affects overweight men over forty. However, it can affect anyone at any age or weight. If it remains untreated, it can lead to high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, memory problems, weight gain and headaches. Lack of sleep causes alertness and attention span to decrease and can make it difficult to drive.
Three forms of Sleep Apnea exist
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA): When soft tissue in the back of the throat blocks the airway while you sleep.
- Central Sleep Apnea (CSA): The brain fails to send signals to the muscles that control breathing.
- Mixed Sleep Apnea: Mixed Sleep Apnea is a combination of OSA and CSA.
Common causes of sleep apnea
- You are overweight
- You have a family history of sleep apnea
- You take a sedative medication
- You have a large neck
- You have abnormalities in your upper airway
- You smoke and or consume alcohol regularly
As many as 18 to 25 million people have Sleep Apnea and don’t know it.