Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea occurs when a person doesn't breathe normally during sleep. Warning signs are loud snoring and long pauses between breaths. The person may be sleepy enough during the day to fall asleep at work or at a stoplight. Sleep apnea can trigger high blood pressure, heart failure, or a stroke. It can affect men and women of any age and occasionally affects children.

Sleep Apnea in Adults

There are 2 primary types of sleep apnea: obstructive and central. Apnea is defined as not breathing for 10 seconds or longer. Central sleep apnea is a breathing disorder that causes your body to decrease or stop the effort of breathing during sleep. This occurs in an off-and-on cycle. It is a result of a problem in the brain or heart. It’s different from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) because the problem is not caused by a blockage of the airway. There are a few different types of central sleep apnea, but they mainly occur in the following groups: middle-aged or elderly individuals, those with chronic congestive heart failure or stroke, people affected by heart or kidney problems, people in high altitudes (higher than 15,000 feet or about 5,000 meters), and those taking long-acting opioid drugs for longer than two months.

Obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA, is a sleep-related breathing disorder that causes your body to stop breathing during sleep. This is a very common sleep disorder. OSA occurs when the tissue in the back of the throat collapses and blocks the airway during sleep. This obstruction keeps air from getting in to the lungs. It happens because the muscles in the throat relax as you sleep. Gravity then causes the tongue to fall back and block the airway. Blockage of the airway can happen a few times a night or several hundred times per night.

Warning Signs

  • Loud snoring

  • Snoring interrupted by pauses in breathing and then gasping

  • Falling asleep at inappropriate times

  • Trouble with concentration or memory, irritability, depression, loss of interest in sex, or impotence

  • Headaches, dry mouth, sore throat or nausea upon awakening

  • Frequent nighttime urination or even bedwetting

Sleep and Polynocturia

  • Sleep apnea is present in about 80% of cases of polynocturia in both men and women

  • Treatment of sleep apnea in people with polynocturia results in a substantial reduction in frequent awakenings to go the bathroom


Do you:

  • snore every night?

  • wake up suddenly during the night perspiring, choking or gasping for air?

  • wake up in the morning with headaches or a sore throat?

  • fight falling asleep during the day, at work or while driving?

  • feel irritable, have memory loss or a lack of concentration each day?

  • suffer with obesity, gastric reflux, or high blood pressure?

If you answered “yes” to more than one of these questions, it’s likely you have OSA.

Almost all people with OSA snore loudly, and about half of the people who snore loudly have OSA. Snoring is a sign that your airway is being partially blocked. While you may not think you snore, ask the person who sleeps next to you. He or she can tell how often you snore and whether or not you stop breathing.

Many people with OSA are sleepy during the day. They find that they are still tired even after a nap. When you stop breathing, your body wakes up. It happens so quickly, you aren’t even aware of it. This event disrupts your sleep process. You can stop breathing hundreds of times in one night. This repetitive disruption of sleep will make you feel very tired the next day.