What is Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a very common disorder in which people stop breathing during sleep. People with sleep apnea may stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, often for a minute or longer and as many as hundreds of times during a single night. Sleep apnea can be caused by either partial or complete obstruction of the airway (obstructive apnea) or temporary loss of the stimulation from the brain to take a breath during sleep.  As a result, the brain is forced to awaken slightly to restore normal breathing or to relieve the obstruction.  These brief awakenings lead to a substantial decrease in sleep quality.

The consequences of untreated sleep apnea are far reaching.  They include:  excessive daytime sleepiness or fatigue, increased car accidents, impaired job performance, lack of concentration, and elevations in blood pressure (which could lead to strokes or heart attacks).