Sleep Apnea

What Is Sleep Apnea?

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What is sleep apnea?


Apnea literally means "no breath" or "stopping breathing".

If you have ‘Obstructive Sleep Apnea’ (OSA), the muscles in your throat relax while you sleep. Your throat closes completely and you temporarily stop breathing. This is called an 'Obstructive Sleep Apnea' or 'OSA'. Other reasons for an obstruction can be a large tongue, obesity or weak muscles in your airway.

When you stop breathing, there is not enough oxygen in your blood, so your brain briefly wakes you up so you can breathe again. This means that throughout the night you keep waking up, possibly hundreds of times, causing you to be extremely sleepy.


There are three different types of sleep apnea:

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive Sleep Apnea is the most common type of sleep apnea, which is mainly due to: menopause, weight gain, asthma, large tongue or tonsils. These increase the likelihood of an obstruction of the airways.

Central Sleep Apnea (CSA)
People with Central Sleep Apnea (CSA) have a disorder with their central nervous system. The breathing centre in the brain fails to trigger breathing or the signal to inhale is not communicated properly to the rest of the body.

Mixed sleep apnea
Mixed sleep apnea is a combination of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) and Central Sleep Apnea (CSA). While mixed sleep apnea is more common than CSA, it is less typical than OSA.

About 10%

of the adult population in the world is suffering from sleep apnea. About 90% of them have not been diagnosed.
Young T, et al. Epidemiology of obstructive sleep apnea: a population health perspective. AJRCCM 2002;165:1217-1239.
What is OSA

What is OSA  

This video provides an overview on obstructive sleep apnea.

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