Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder with symptoms such as 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 five to 30 times or more an hour. Typically, normal breathing then starts again, sometimes with a loud snort or choking sound./P>
Sleep apnea usually is a chronic (ongoing) condition that disrupts your sleep three 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 problems sleeping that make you tired during the day. Sleep apnea is one of the leading causes of excessive daytime sleepiness.
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 overweight, but it can affect anyone.
The goals of treating sleep apnea are to restore regular breathing during sleep and to relieve symptoms such as loud snoring and daytime sleepiness. Treatment may improve other medical problems linked to sleep apnea, such as high blood pressure, and can reduce your risk for heart disease and stroke.
Sleep apnea can be treated in a variety of ways. For milder cases of sleep apnea, your doctor may recommend only lifestyle changes, such as losing weight or quitting smoking. If these measures don't improve your symptoms or if your apnea is moderate to severe, a number of other treatments are available. Certain devices, such as a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine (commonly known as a sleep mask or sleep appliance), can help open up a blocked airway. In other cases, surgery may be necessary.
It is important to learn about sleep disorders and symptoms if you suspect you or a family member have problems sleeping. Click on the button below to take our Sleep Quiz. You can also read more about causes, symptoms and treatments for sleep apnea, or learn more by going to https://www.sleepassociation.org/.