Sleep apnoea is a sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts again, throughout the night, causing significant disruptions to sleep. Sleep apnoea can sometimes become serious due to the impact it has on breathing. Loud snoring, insomnia and having trouble breathing are all frequently seen with this common condition.
There are two types of sleep apnoea. The most common type is obstructive sleep apnoea. This is when the throat muscles become so relaxed during sleep that part of the airway becomes closed off. This type of sleep apnoea can occur at any age but is typically more common in middle-aged males. Central sleep apnoea is a much rarer type of sleep apnoea. This occurs when your brain doesn’t actually send the correct signals to the muscles that control breathing.
If you think you have sleep apnoea, don’t worry! Sleep apnoea affects more people than you think, and some might not even know they have it yet! In New Zealand, obstructive sleep apnoea affects at least 4% of adult men and 2% of adult women.
If you think you have sleep apnoea, there are a few different symptoms that you might be experiencing.
You could be experiencing the following symptoms at night:
You could be experiencing these symptoms during the day:
When you are in a deep sleep, the muscles in your throat relax. For someone suffering from sleep apnoea, the throat muscles will relax so much that part of their airway actually closes off.
They keep trying to breathe but no air enters the lungs, reducing the oxygen in the blood and waking the person. They will usually be unaware that they have woken and return to sleep which is when the cycle repeats and re-occurs - constantly throughout the night.
There are many factors that can contribute to sleep apnoea, including:
There are also some common risk factors that contribute to sleep apnoea, including sleeping on your back, chronic sinusitis, menopause or recent weight gain.
Other risk factors may include: