The word “apnea” means “without breath".

There are three types of apneas: obstructive, central and mixed. The most common type is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) which occurs when the muscles in the back of the throat fail to keep the airway open, despite efforts to breathe. The breathing pauses occur repeatedly during sleep and lasts at least ten seconds at a time for a minute or longer


Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common form of sleep apnea. Apnea literally translates as "cessation of breathing" which means that during sleep your breathing stops periodically during the night for a few seconds. These lapses in breathing can occur for up to ten seconds or more and can happen up to hundreds of times a night in severe cases.

Obstructive sleep apnea can be considered one of three levels depending on the number of breathing and sleep interruptions nightly:

  • Mild OSA- The sufferer experiences 5-14 episodes of interrupted breathing per hour.
  • Moderate OSA- The sufferer experiences 15-30 episodes of interrupted breathing per hour.
  • Severe OSA- The sufferer experiences 30 or more episodes of interrupted breathing per hour.
OSA is caused by blockage of the upper respiratory airways in which either the throat muscles collapse, the tongue falls back into the airway, or enlarged tonsils and/or adenoids impede air flow. When your airway becomes cutoff, the brain has to wake itself to signal the respiratory system to kick back into gear. This often leads to breathing resuming with loud gasps, snorts, or body jerks that may wake you from your slumber and disrupt your sleep. When you're awakened multiple times through the night, your body and mind don't get the rest they need to function, leaving you tired and drained during the daytime.

Many people may not even realize they have obstructive sleep apnea and are only aware of the interrupted sleep by a concerned bed partner telling them of their nightly breathing cessations. Others may be aware that they sleep poorly or frequently wake in the night, but may not understand the cause or the potential consequences of untreated sleep apnea.

Adult men over the age of 40 and people who are overweight or suffer from obesity are at greater risk for acquiring obstructive sleep apnea.


The lack of oxygen your body receives can have negative long-term consequences for your health. These include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Pre-diabetes and diabetes
  • Depression
  • Mood and memory problems

"Sleep Apnea Affects Your Whole Body"