Sleep Apnea - What Is It?

Thu, May 31, 2012

So what is sleep apnea, exactly?

In the most basic terms, sleep apnea is a condition where the sufferer stops breathing while they are asleep.  In order to be considered an 'apnoeic event', the breathing must stop for at least ten seconds.  In many cases, the person might stop breathing for 30 seconds or more, each time -- and this can happen hundreds of times throughout the night.

Sleep apnea sufferers consequently experience poor sleep, primarily because their body wakes them briefly at the end of each breathing stoppage.  Therefore, instead of getting hours of restful sleep, the sufferer is actually having a series of short naps and being woken repeatedly throughout the night.

These brief awakenings are known as 'micro arousals' because they are only just enough to get the body breathing again.  Typically, the sufferer has no awareness or recollection of waking.  This is why sleep apnea sufferers often complain that they've had a full night's sleep, but still feel tired in the morning and throughout the day.

What is sleep apnea?  It is a serious, often undiagnosed medical condition with clear links to a range of serious consequences and co-morbidities, including chronic fatigue, acid reflux, hypertension, loss of libido / impotence, metabolic retardation / obesity, type 2 diabetes, stroke ... and much more.

Sleep apnea and its side effects usually get worse as time goes by, so it is important to get a diagnosis and appropriate treatment as soon as possible, before more harm is done to your health, wellbeing and relationships.

If you suspect you might have sleep apnea, or know someone who does, call 1300 246 637 for a free, no-obligation chat with a friendly sleep therapist.