Sleep Disorders
All About Sleep Disorders
Who is Affected By Sleep Disorders
Who Treats Sleep Disorders
What Happens At A Sleep Lab
Types of Sleep Disorders
Sleep Apnea
What is Sleep Apnea
What Causes Sleep Apnea
Treating Sleep Apnea
Sleep Apnea in Children
What is Insomnia
What Causes Insomnia
Treating Insomnia
Sleep Walking
What is Sleep Walking
What Causes Sleep Walking
Treating Sleep Waking
Hypersomnia: Daytime Sleepiness
What is Hypersomnia
What Causes Hypersomnia
Treating Hypersomnia
Sleep Paralysis
What is Sleep Paralysis
What Causes Sleep Paralysis
Treating Sleep Paralysis
REM Sleep Behavior Disorder
What is REM Sleep
What Causes REM Sleep
Treating REM Sleep
What is Narcolepsy
What Causes Narcolepsy
Treating Narcolepsy
Restless Leg Syndrome
What is Restless Leg Syndrome
What Causes Restless Leg Syndrome
Treating Restless Leg Syndrome
What are Nightmares
What Causes Nightmares
Treating Nightmares
What is Snoring
What Causes Snoring
Treating Snoring
Sleep Deprivation
What is Sleep Deprivation
What Causes Sleep Deprivation
Treating Sleep Deprivation
Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders
What are Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders
What Causes Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders
Treating Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders
Dentistry and Sleep Disorders
Dentists’ Role in Managing Sleep Disorders
Dental Treatments for Sleep Disorders
Advantages of Dental Treatments
Site Map

 What is Sleep Apnea



Sleep Apnea is the number one sleep disorder in the United States. According to the American Sleep Apnea Association people who have sleep apnea “stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, sometimes hundreds of times during the night and often for a minute or longer.” The National Institute of Health estimates that twelve million Americans have sleep apnea.

There are three different types of sleep apnea, however they all involve the same symptom, disrupted breathing during sleep. The three types of sleep apnea are obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea, and mixed sleep apnea. In all of these conditions the patient's sleep is routinely disrupted due to a lack of oxygen. The brain picks up on the lack of oxygen and basically causes the person to wake up momentarily, in order to reestablish breath. Then the person falls back to sleep, and the cycle repeats.

The differences between obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea, and mixed sleep apnea involve the root cause of the breathing disruption. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) results from a blocked airway, which is usually caused by the collapse and/or closure of soft tissue in the rear of the throat. For people with central sleep apnea there is no physical airway blockage, however the brain fails to send the signal to the muscles to trigger breathing. Mixed sleep apnea is a combination of these two types of sleep apnea.

Risk factors for sleep apnea include gender (males are more likely to suffer sleep apnea,) being overweight, and being over 40 years old. It should be noted, however, that sleep apnea affects a broad range of people, and that even children can have sleep apnea.

Individuals with sleep apnea suffer from very poor quality of sleep. Even if they spend 8 or more hours sleeping, they will likely be very tired because all throughout their sleep their brain has been waking them up momentarily to signal them to begin breathing. This puts people with sleep apnea at risk for other sleep disorders, such as sleep deprivation. If you suffer from daytime drowsiness, difficulty concentrating, memory problems, headaches, difficulty breathing during the night, or if your spouse has noticed that you snore and seem to gasp for air during sleep, you should consult your doctor, a sleep physician, or another sleep specialist. You may have sleep apnea and your sleep doctor will likely refer you to a sleep lab  for further testing.

It is critical to properly diagnose and treat any sleep disorder. In the case of a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea, there are serious side effects that can negatively impact your health and your life if your sleep disorder goes untreated. Sleep apnea has been linked to conditions such as heart disease and heart attacks, so be sure to contact your doctor if you may have sleep apnea. 

Home        Contact