What is Sleep Apnea?

It is estimated that 20 million Americans are affected by sleep apnea. That represents more than 6.5% of the population or nearly 1 in 15 Americans, making sleep apnea as prevalent as asthma or diabetes. A good night’s sleep is more serious than many realize, and snoring is much more than a bothersome sound. Snoring can be a hint of a much deeper problem. Sleep apnea has been linked to major health issues including diabetes, glaucoma, erectile dysfunction, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke and other health problems.

The Greek word “apnea” literally means “without breath.” A person experiencing sleep apnea will stop breathing or experience reduced breathing while they are asleep, some as many as 100 times per night and for as long as 10 seconds or more. This constant interruption of sleep not only prevents you from getting a good night’s sleep, but also deprives your body of the oxygen it needs.

There are three types of sleep apnea — Obstructive, Central and Mixed.
  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) occurs when the soft tissue in the back of the throat relaxes, blocking the airway. Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common of all and usually accompanied by loud snoring.
  • Central Sleep Apnea occurs when the brain fails to send a signal to the muscles that control breathing (much less common and no snoring).
  • Mixed Sleep Apnea is a combination of both Obstructive sleep apnea and Central sleep apnea.

Sleep Apnea and CPAP