Obstructive sleep apnoea is a common sleep disorder in which you have one or more pauses in breathing or you take shallow breaths while you sleep. The airway repeatedly becomes blocked, limiting the amount of air that reaches your lungs. When this happens, you may snore loudly or make choking noises as you try to breathe. So despite your body’s effort to breathe, oxygen can no longer get to your brain. This may happen a few times a night, or in more severe cases, several hundred times a night.
Causes for blockage of the airway
The muscles of the upper airway relax when you fall asleep, thus causing the tissue in the back of the throat to collapse and so a blockage or temporary pause in breathing occurs. Sleeping on your back too can cause the tongue to fall back. This narrows the airway, which reduces the amount of air that can reach your lungs. The narrowed airway causes snoring by making the tissue in back of the throat vibrate as you breathe.
Consequences of not having sound sleep
Sleep apnoea can make you wake up in the morning feeling tired or not refreshed. During the day, you may feel fatigued, have difficulty concentrating or you may even unintentionally fall asleep. This is because your body is waking up numerous times throughout the night, even though you might not be conscious of each awakening.
Negative long term consequences
The lack of oxygen your body receives can have negative long-term consequences for your health. This includes:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Pre-diabetes and diabetes