What is sleep apnea?
If you’ve already followed sleep hygiene advice but keep snoring or waking up tired, you may have a common sleep disorder called sleep apnea.
“Apnea” literally means “absence of breathing” or “stop breathing.” An apnea is a total obstruction of the passage of air for at least 10 seconds or more.
When you stop breathing involuntarily, the respiratory control center, located in your medulla oblongata, sends an activation signal to your brain to keep you breathing. You may wake up and then go back to sleep and so on throughout the night even if you are not aware of it.
As you can imagine, not receiving oxygen and being constantly activated to breathe again—hour after hour, night after night—puts the body under a high degree of stress.
Sleep apnea affects more than 3 men in 10 and nearly 1 woman in 5, so it’s more common than you might think*.
*Sleep-disordered breathing affects 34% of men and 17% of women aged between 30-70. Peppard et al. Increased Prevalence of Sleep-Disordered Breathing in Adults. Am J Epidemiol. 2013 (5.17)