Obstructive Sleep Apnoea ( OSA ) is the most common condition that causes the upper airway to collapse during sleep resulting in temporary blockages in breathing. There are 2 types of obstructions in the airway for sufferers of OSA:
- OBSTRUCTIVE APNOEA (OA)= cessation of airflow for 10 seconds or greater.
HYPOPNEA (H) =>50% decrease in airflow for 10 seconds or greater with a decrease in oxygen saturation of >3%
Both events mostly occur in REM sleep, but have also been recorded in slow wave sleep, which are less common.
As we relax into sleep, our muscles relax too. For OSA sufferers, the upper airway relaxes to the point of blocking the airway causing an interruption to breathing ( an obstruction ).
When you have an obstruction of any type, the oxygen levels in your blood stream decrease. When your brain realises that it isn’t getting enough oxygen, it sends a message to your body to wake you up. This is often associated with a loud snort or gasp for breath. Your heart rate is increased as you wake up, sometimes to double that of its resting rate as the airway opens to let in oxygen.
These breathing pauses typically last between 10 to 20 seconds ( however some can last over 60 seconds!) and can occur up to hundreds of times every night jolting you out of your natural sleep rhythm. As a consequence, you spend more time in light sleep and less time in the deep, restorative sleep you need to be energetic, mentally sharp, and productive the next day.
While most people with sleep apnoea don’t remember these awakenings, they might feel exhausted during the day, irritable and depressed, or see a decrease in productivity.
Sleep apnoea is a serious, and potentially life-threatening sleep disorder. If you suspect that you or a loved one may have sleep apnoea, call us today to arrange a sleep study.
Symptoms of sleep apnoea include:
- Loud, chronic snoring
- Frequent pauses in breathing during sleep
- Gasping, snorting, or choking during sleep
- Feeling exhausted after waking
- Daytime sleepiness
- Morning headaches
- Waking up with shortness of breath, chest pains, nasal congestion, or a dry throat