Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea (also sometimes spelled sleep apnoea) takes place when a persons breathing stops as they sleep. It is defined as “a common sleep disorder characterized by brief interruptions of breathing during sleep.” These interruptions of sleep are “apneas”, and they generally take place over a period of ten seconds or more and can take place any number of times throughout the course of a night.

Individuals who suffer with this problem often wake themselves up by their struggle to get their breath but often do not recall how they suffered throughout the night.

Three Types of Sleep Apnea

Those who study sleep and sleep disorders break sleep problems down into three different categories, which include obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea and mixed sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea (abbreviated to OSA) is by far the most common form.

In this case the soft tissue located in the back part of the throat relaxes too much and it blocks airflow. Despite the effort to breathe, when a person sleeps it is not possible for air to pass from the nose and mouth and into the lungs. The action of obstructive sleep apnea causes the blood to have a decreased level of oxygen in it. Regular breathing begins by way of a small degree of choking or a snorting sensation.

Central sleep apnea (CSA) is not terribly common. It comes about because the brain experiences difficulties in sending out signals to the body in terms of regular breathing patterns. The third type of sleep apnea known as mixed sleep apnea is just that, it is a combination of the other two but bears more in common with OSA and its treatment is much the same.

Daytime Sleepiness

Those who have interrupted sleep patterns are often extremely tired throughout the daytime. In fact “excessive daytime sleepiness” is one of the major symptoms of sleep apnea. Those who suffer from sleep apnea dont get any rest at night because of the drop in blood oxygenation levels, the pauses in breathing and/or the struggle for the airways to move air into and out of the lungs, and finally, an individual will fall into a deep soundless sleep but then be jolted out of it and into a lighter sleep. When this happens a number of times throughout the course of a night, it causes problems.

Individuals who have a tendency towards sleep apnea often are noisy snorers as well. But that does not automatically mean that those who snore also suffer from sleep apnea, and vice versa. Not everyone who has sleep apnea is aware of the fact that they also do indeed snore.

The majority of people who experience sleep apnea are not aware that they have interruptions in their breathing at night. Often it takes a spouse or another family member to become aware of the fact that an individual suffers from sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is more common in those who have excessive weight on their bodies although even those without weight problems can develop sleep apnea.