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Sleep Apnea (also spelt Sleep Apnoea) affects the way you breathe when you’re sleeping. In untreated Sleep Apnea, breathing is briefly interrupted or becomes very shallow during sleep. These ‘breathing pauses’ typically last between 10 to 20 seconds and can occur up hundreds of times a night, jolting you out of your natural sleep rhythm. As a consequence, you spend more time in light sleep and less time in the deep, restorative sleep that you need to be energetic, mentally sharp and productive the next day.

This chronic sleep deprivation results in daytime sleepiness, slow reflexes, poor concentration and an increased risk of accidents. Sleep Apnea can also lead to serious health problems over time, including diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and weight gain. But with treatment you can control the symptoms, get your sleep back on track and start enjoy being more refreshed and alert every day.

Types of sleep apnea

  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea is the most common type of Sleep Apnea. It occurs when the soft tissue in the back of your throat relaxes during sleep and blocks the airway, often causing you to snore loudly.
  • Central Sleep Apnea is a much less common type of Sleep Apnea that involves the central nervous system, occurring when the brain fails to signal the muscles that control breathing. People with central Sleep Apnea seldom snore.
  • Complex Sleep Apnea is a combination of obstructive Sleep Apnea and central Sleep Apnea.

Sleep Apnea signs and symptoms

It can be tough to identify Sleep Apnea on your own, since the most prominent symptoms only occur when you’re asleep. But you can get around this difficulty by asking your partner to observe your sleep habits, or by recording yourself during sleep.

Major signs and symptoms of Sleep Apnea

If pauses occur while you snore and if choking or gasping follow the pauses, these are major signs that you have Sleep Apnea. Another common sign of Sleep Apnea is fighting sleepiness during the day, at work or while driving. You may find yourself rapidly falling asleep during the quiet moments of the day when you're not active. Even if you don't have daytime sleepiness but have irregular or unusual breathing patterns whilst sleeping then it is a good idea to investigate this further.

Other common signs and symptoms of Sleep Apnea

  • Morning headaches
  • Memory or learning problems and not being able to concentrate
  • Feeling irritable, depressed, or having mood swings or personality changes
  • Waking up frequently to urinate
  • Dry mouth or sore throat when you wake up

Complete our free Online Sleep Assessment to see if you are at risk of sleep apnea?

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