What is Sleep Apnoea?
Sleep apnoea is a sleep disorder commonly associated with loud snoring, choking and excessive daytime sleepiness. There are 2 main types of sleep apnoea:
- Obstructive Sleep Apnoea: this is the most common type of sleep apnoea, occurring when the muscles in the back of the throat relax. When the muscles relax, the airway narrows or closes during inhalation, lowering the level of oxygen in the blood. When the brain senses this, sufferers are roused from sleep to reopen the airway. This awakening is usually so brief that it isn't consciously remembered, but it can lead to very fragmented sleep.
- Central Sleep Apnoea: this occurs when the brain fails to transmit signals to the breathing muscles. Common symptoms include waking up with shortness of breath or headaches.
Risks of Untreated Sleep Apnoea:
Apart from feeling tired during the day, sleep apnoea can have more serious effects on health. Some of these include increasing risk of high blood pressure and potentially increasing risk of developing heart failure, abnormal heart rhythms (atrial fibrillation), coronary artery disease and strokes.
Click here for more information about the link between sleep apnoea and these related health issues.
What to do if you suspect you have sleep apnoea
Some common symptoms of sleep apnoea include snoring, daytime sleepiness, morning headaches, irritability and shortness of breath. If you suspect you may have sleep apnoea, talk to your GP about getting a referral to see a sleep physician, or organising a home-based sleep study. You can also take our sleep quiz.