What Happens In Throat While Sleeping That Causes Sleep Apnea?
During waking hours it is the muscles that make up the air passages that provide both rigidity and strength and for the clear passage of air into and out of the body.
As a person inhales and exhales without any problem, this exerts essential pressure on the muscles of the airways and muscles to keep them as rigid as possible and in good working order. This constant cycle of breath going freely in and out of the lungs is thought of as being an “interdependent relationship”.
Now while a person sleeps it is an all together diverse story. In this case, not only are you giving your mind and body a rest and plenty of relaxation but the muscles that line your mouth and throat decide to relax also. This causes a narrowing of the air passages.
For those without any sleep or breathing problems this doesn’t create any extra concern whatsoever. However for those who suffer from sleep apnea a dangerous turn of events can be put into play.
Sleep apnea often involves snoring and a blockage of the airways and coupled with the relaxation mode that the mouth and throat have gone into; this causes the normal airflow to be partially and/or totally blocked. Due to this, regular breathing is unable to take place.
If usual breathing is disrupted then there is very little if indeed any air flowing through that can bring about the necessary pressure on the airway muscles to keep everything running smoothly.
When this happens it is dangerous because the air passages can narrow and collapse even further, thereby limiting all of the air that is trying to pass through. Air then has no route from which to reach the lungs and with this; the oxygen level in the blood begins to drop.
The brain is now on overdrive trying to let the lungs know that they must get air and return to a normalized breathing pattern. Unfortunately the lungs are unable to do as they are told as the air passages are collapsed and will not allow air to flow through.
Finally the brain realizes that its oxygen supply is depleted as well and it then goes about the task of letting the body know by waking the person up in order for them to restore the required amount of muscle tone to their air passages and kick start regular breathing.
Some people who suffer from sleep apnea awake with a choke, a gasp or a snort as they try to force breathe into their lungs.
The oxygen levels rise again to their normal place once the cycle of regular breathing commences and then the person falls back to sleep, and into the rapid eye movement (REM) deeper stage of sleep. However this causes the cycle of the muscles in the airways to collapse and become obstructed again thereby perpetuating the cycle.
Research into this cycle shows that it brings about disrupted sleep over a consistent period as the body needs in particular an adequate amount of REM sleep per night in order for a person to feel rested and energized the following day.
This cycle causes the brain to not get the required rest as well as it continuously needs to awaken the sleeping individual to alert him or her to the breathing problem at hand.