Sleep apnea (also spelled as sleep apnoea) is defined as a sleep disorder that is characterized by pauses in breathing or instances of shallow breathing while you sleep. These pauses in breathing can last from a few seconds to minutes. They may occur 30 times or more an hour. Typically, normal breathing then starts again, sometimes with a loud snort or choking sound.
The book below is an excellent resource on the topic of sleep apnea. Note that a new page will be displayed when the image or link is clicked.
When you have these pauses in your breathing or instances of shallow breathing, it will often result in you moving out of deep sleep and into light sleep. This causes the quality of your sleep to be poor, which makes you tired during the day. Sleep apnea is a leading cause of excessive daytime sleepiness. When breathing is paused, carbon dioxide builds up in the bloodstream.
There are three types of sleep apnea:
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA): This is the more common of the two forms of apnea and it is caused by a blockage of the airway, usually when the soft tissue in the back of the throat collapses during sleep. OSA means that there is an absence of airflow but the respiratory effort is still there.
- Central Sleep Apnea: Central sleep apnea is a less common type of sleep apnea but unlike OSA, the airway is not blocked. The area of your brain that controls your breathing doesn’t send the correct signals to your breathing muscles, so as a result, you may not breathe for brief periods of time. Central sleep apnea means that there is an absence of both airflow and respiratory effort. Central sleep apnea can affect anyone but it is more common in people that have certain medical conditions or use certain medicines. Central sleep apnea can occur with obstructive sleep apnea or by itself. People who have central sleep apnea don’t usually snore.
- Mixed: combination of both obstructive and central sleep apnea symptoms. People with mixed sleep apnea will usually start off with central apnea episodes for about 10 seconds, and then obstructive sleep apnea episodes will begin. The cause of mixed sleep apnea is unclear, but basically, if an obstructive sleep apnea episode happens during a central apnea episode, then you have mixed apnea. Many people consider mixed sleep apnea as something called complex sleep apnea, even though they represent two different things. Complex sleep apnea occurs when the CPAP machine treats the obstructive sleep apnea episodes but then central sleep apnea episodes occur. Mixed sleep apnea is diagnosed when you have both obstructive and central sleep apnea episodes.
Sleep apnea often goes undiagnosed. Doctors usually can’t detect the condition during routine office visits. Also, there is no blood test can help diagnose the condition.
Sleep researchers classify sleep apnea as mild, moderate or severe. Less than five of these pauses per hour is considered normal, five to 15 is considered mild sleep apnea, 15 to 30 is considered moderate sleep apnea, and greater than 30 is considered severe sleep apnea.
Most people who have sleep apnea don’t know they have it because it only occurs when they are asleep. A family member, spouse or bed partner might be the first to notice signs of sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is a chronic condition that requires long-term management. Lifestyle changes, mouthpieces, surgery, and breathing devices can successfully treat sleep apnea in many people.
You can find other books on the topic of sleep apnea here. Please drop me a comment if you have found another book that you found informative on the topic of sleep apnea.