Sleep Apnea Overview
Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that occurs when a persons breathing is interrupted during sleep.
People with untreated sleep apnea stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, sometimes hundreds of times during the night.
Sleep apnea is a true breathing obstruction, which requires the sleeper to awaken to begin breathing again. A person with sleep apnea wakes up many times a night to regain breathing, but usually remembers nothing at all about the awakenings.
The sleep partner of a person with sleep apnea remembers a great deal about the awakenings and is generally a good witness of the incidents. Sleep apnea is a dangerous and progressive sleep disorder (it gets worse as you age).
Not only does sleep apnea result in sleep deprivation, but it also can threaten your life. Sleep apnea is a period of time during which breathing stops or is markedly reduced. In simplified terms, a sleep apnea occurs when a person stops breathing for 10 seconds or more.
So, if normal breath airflow is 70% to 100%, a sleep apnea is if you stop breathing completely, or take less than 25% of a normal breath (for a period that lasts 10 seconds or more).
It means complete stoppage of airflow. Sleep apnea is associated with 4% drop in the saturation of oxygen in the blood, a direct result of the reduction in the transfer of oxygen into the blood when breathing stops.)
When your sleep is upset throughout the night, you can be very sleepy during the day.
- People with sleep apnea often have loud snoring. However, not everyone who snores has sleep apnea. Some people with sleep apnea don't know they snore.
- Sleep apnea happens more often in people who are overweight, but even thin people can have it.
- Most people don't know they have sleep apnea. They don't know that they are having problems breathing while they are sleeping.
- A family member and/or bed partner may notice the signs of sleep apnea first.
Sleep Apneas are usually measured during sleep (preferably in all stages of sleep) over a two-hour period. An estimate of the severity of apnea is calculated by dividing the number of apneas by the number of hours of sleep, giving an apnea index (AI). The greater the AI, the more severe is the apnea.
A hypopnea is a decrease in breathing that is not as severe as an apnea. So, if normal breath airflow is 100% to 70%, a hypopnea is 69% to 26% of a normal breath.
Also like apneas, hypopneas usually disrupt the level of sleep. A hypopnea index (HI) can be calculated by dividing the number of hypopneas by the number of hours of sleep.
Untreated sleep apnea can increase the chance of having high blood pressure and even a heart attack or stroke. Untreated sleep apnea can also increase the risk of diabetes and the risk for work-related accidents and driving accidents.
Types of sleep apnea: