Sleep apnea happens when the upper airway partially or completely collapses during sleep, causing you to stop breathing, or have very shallow breathing, while you sleep. The pause in breathing can last for seconds or minutes and may occur 30 or more times in an hour. This means the brain—and the rest of the body—may not get enough oxygen.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea is a common condition, yet many people don’t know they have it. According to the American Association for Respiratory Care, about 10 million Americans have undiagnosed sleep apnea.
Symptoms of sleep apnea include:
- You or your bed partner snores loudly and heavily and feels sleepy during the day
- You notice that your bed partner stops breathing, gasps, or chokes during sleep
- You sometimes fall asleep at inappropriate times, such as while you are talking or eating
Untreated Sleep Apnea
Untreated sleep apnea has been linked to an increase in car crashes and workplace accidents. It can also lead to serious health problems. In addition to fatigue, irritability, and memory problems, sleep apnea has been linked to:
- Weight gain
- High blood pressure
- Heart problems