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What Is The Definition Of Sleep Apnea

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Avoid Alcohol And Sleeping Pills

Sleep Apnea Definition Video

If you have trouble sleeping, try a cup of decaffeinated herbal tea or juice instead of unwinding with a glass of wine. Alcohol and certain medications can make throat muscles relax more than normal. As a result, airways can get blocked. Alcohol and medications can also make it harder for your brain to “wake up” and register a lack of oxygen in the body. This can cause longer and more serious pauses in breathing. If you find it hard to fall asleep, try reading a book or taking a warm bath.

Signs And Symptoms Of Sleep Apnea

Family members or bed partners often pick up on the signs of sleep apnea first. Many people with sleep apnea don’t know they’re snoring and gasping for breath at night. If you have any of the following signs, see your doctor:

  • daytime sleepiness
  • loud snoring followed by silent pauses
  • gasping or choking during sleep
  • morning headache
  • poor concentration or memory loss
  • lowered sex drive

Snoring by itself doesn’t necessarily mean that you have sleep apnea. It is true that loud snoring is common in people with this disorder, but there’s a big difference between simple snoring and sleep apnea.

Untreated sleep apnea can cause serious health problems. If it’s not treated, sleep apnea can lead to:

  • high blood pressure
  • work-related injuries

Home Sleep Apnea Test

Some patients with many risk factors for sleep apnea and no other medical disorders may be candidates for a home sleep apnea test. This type of sleep study lets you sleep in your own home while a small monitor collects data as you sleep. The testing equipment is less complicated than what is used in an in-lab sleep study. You will be shown how to hook up the testing equipment yourself. After your home sleep apnea test, you can take the device back to your medical provider or send it by mail.

Other apps and sleep tracking devices may claim to be able to detect sleep apnea, but their results can be unreliable. Be sure to discuss these devices with your medical provider.

After your sleep study or home sleep apnea test, you will schedule a follow-up appointment to discuss the results. If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea, your medical provider will discuss your treatment options with you.

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How Is Hypopnea Different From Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea and hypopnea are from the same family of sleep breathing disorders. While a hypopnea is a period of shallow breathing, an apnea is a complete pause in breathing. If someone suffers from a sleep apnea disorder, they may also experience hypopneas. However, people with a hypopnea disorder experience a greater number of hypopneas.

Beyond the difference in breathing, sleep apnea and hypopnea disorders are very similar. They share the same types, symptoms, and risk factors. While apneas are generally considered more severe than hypopneas, there is evidence that both carry similar risk factors for cardiovascular disease and other comorbidities.

How Is Sleep Apnea Diagnosed

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

If your doctor determines that you have symptoms suggestive of sleep apnea, you may be asked to have a sleep evaluation with a sleep specialist or may order an overnight sleep study to objectively evaluate for sleep apnea.

  • Testing includes an overnight sleep study called a polysomnogram . A PSG is performed in a sleep laboratory under the direct supervision of a trained technologist. During the test, a variety of body functions, such as the electrical activity of the brain, eye movements, muscle activity, heart rate, breathing patterns, air flow, and blood oxygen levels are recorded at night during sleep. After the study is completed, the number of times breathing is impaired during sleep is tallied and the severity of the sleep apnea is graded.
  • For adults, a Home Sleep Test can sometimes be performed instead. This is a modified type of sleep study that can be done in the comfort of home. It records fewer body functions than PSG, including airflow, breathing effort, blood oxygen levels and snoring to confirm a diagnosis of moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea.

An HST is not appropriate to be used as a screening tool for patients without symptoms. Its not used for patients with significant medical problems . Its also not used for patients who have other sleep disorders in addition to the suspected obstructive sleep apnea.

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Learn About Other Precautions To Help You Stay Safe

Sleep apnea can increase your risks of complications if you are having surgery, and it can affect your ability to drive.

  • Before surgery. If you are having any type of surgery that requires medicine to put you to sleep or for pain management, let your surgeon and doctors know that you have sleep apnea. They might have to take extra steps to make sure that your upper airway stays open during the surgery and when selecting your pain medicines.
  • Driving precautions. Undiagnosed and untreated sleep apnea can decrease learning capabilities, slow down decision making, and decrease attention span, which can result in drowsy driving.

Getting Tested For Sleep Apnoea

If a GP thinks you might have sleep apnoea, they may refer you to a specialist sleep clinic for tests.

At the clinic, you may be given devices that check things like your breathing and heartbeat while you sleep.

You’ll be asked to wear these overnight so doctors can check for signs of sleep apnoea.

You can usually do this at home, but sometimes you may need to stay in the clinic overnight.

The test can show if you have sleep apnoea and how severe it is. This is based on how often your breathing stops while you sleep .

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How Common Is Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea is estimated to affect between 2-9% of adults in the United States, but many cases are believed to go undiagnosed, which fits with studies that have found considerably higher rates of OSA. Precise prevalence is hard to determine because studies have used different criteria for diagnosing the condition. A consistent finding, though, is that OSA affects men more than women. It can occur in people of any age but is more common in older adults.

Central sleep apnea has been found to affect around .9% of adults over the age of 40. It is found much more frequently in men than in women.

As this data demonstrates, OSA is much more common than CSA. For this reason, when people talk about sleep apnea, they are generally referring to OSA.

What Is A Hypopnea

Obstructive Sleep Apnea Part 2: Definitions

A hypopnea is a reduction in breathing along with a specified drop in blood oxygen . Some dictionaries define hypopnea simply as abnormally slow or shallow breathing.

The word hypopnea is derived from hypo, meaning under or below normal, and the suffix -pnea meaning breathing.


Apneas and hypopneas are components of the apnea-hypopnea index or AHI which is one of two methods used to calculate the severity of ones sleep apnea condition.

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Head Of Bed Elevation

For people with mild to moderate OSA, elevating the head of your bed slightly may reduce sleep apnea and promote better sleep. In one small study, researchers found that elevating the head of subjects beds by 7.5 degrees reduced the severity of OSA by 31.8 percent on average.

If you have mild to moderate OSA, ask your doctor whether an adjustable bed base could help with your symptoms.

What Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when your breathing is interrupted during sleep, for longer than 10 seconds at least 5 times per hour throughout your sleep period. These periods are called hypopneas when your breathing is reduced and you’re not taking in enough oxygen. They’re called apneas if your breathing completely stops. Your breathing typically stops because something is blocking your upper airway, such as the muscles, tongue, and other body tissues.Obstructive sleep apnea can range from moderate to severe, based on a measurement and rating system called the apnea-hypopnea index . The AHI measures an average number of apnea and hypopnea episodes that you experience per hour that you sleep.

Obstructive sleep apnea is classified by severity:

  • Severe obstructive sleep apnea means that your AHI is greater than 30

  • Moderate obstructive sleep apnea means that your AHI is between 15 and 30

  • Mild obstructive sleep apnea means that your AHI is between 5 and 15

Get a Better, More Restful Nights Sleep

More than 60 million Americans suffer from poor sleep quality, and more than 40 million meet the diagnostic criteria for sleep disorders. Sleep is critical to a healthy mind and body learn how to get a better, more restful nights sleep in the Johns Hopkins Healthy Sleep portal.

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How To Treat Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that needs to be treated. Your medical provider or a sleep doctor can help you select a treatment plan that is right for you. Depending on the treatment, she may work in collaboration with other members of the sleep team, including dentists, psychologists, physician assistants, nurses and technologists. Your plan may include any combination of these treatments:

Causes Of Sleep Apnea

Can Sleep Apnea Cause Rapid Heart Rate

Knowing that youre at risk for sleep apnea can help you decide when to consult your doctor. Some common risk factors of sleep apnea include:

  • Age: Although sleep apnea can happen at any age, the risk increases as you get older.
  • Gender: In younger people, sleep apnea is more common in men than women, but the gap between men and women affected by the condition closes as we age. By age 50, the incidence of sleep apnea is about even between males and females.
  • Type 2 diabetes: Over 80 percent of people with Type 2 diabetes suffer from unrecognized OSA. Sleep apnea can make it harder for people with diabetes to control glucose levels.
  • Obesity: Having a larger neck circumference changes the landscape of a persons airway. Research has shown that a 10percent increase in weight results in a six-fold increase in the incidence of sleep apnea.
  • Smoking: Inflammation in the upper airway caused by smoking can affect how the brain controls the muscles involved in breathing during sleep.
  • Alcohol consumption: Alcohol can relax the muscles around the mouth and throat, allowing the airway to become closed off.
  • Sleeping on your back: When you sleep on your back, its easier for the tissues around your airway to collapse and block your airflow.
  • Anatomy: Structural abnormalities like a large tongue, enlarged tonsils, or a low-hanging soft palate can contribute to sleep apnea.

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What Are The Health Risks Of Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea can lead to sleep deprivation from constant nightly interruptions and shallower overall sleep. Lack of sleep is associated with far-reaching health consequences that affect a person physically, mentally, and emotionally, and as a result, it comes as no surprise that sleep apnea has been tied to diverse health problems.

Because of how it affects oxygen balance in the body, untreated sleep apnea raises dangers for various types of cardiovascular issues including high blood pressure, heart attack, heart disease, and stroke.

The Definition Of Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a condition wherein an individuals upper airway muscles contract, which can prevent a person from getting enough air into their lungs. This is often characterized by uneven breathing or gasping for air during sleep. Some people with sleep apnea may also snore loudly in an attempt to get more breaths in.

Its recommended to get yourself diagnosed by a medical professional if you are suspected to have sleep apnea. Do note that there are two types of sleep apnea and that you could be categorized under obstructive sleep apnea or central sleep apnea.

Obstructive sleep apnea is more common as the inconsistent airflow is due to the nose or mouth. This is opposed to central sleep apnea, where the airflow is unstable because of the brains lack of signals.

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What Are The Treatments For Sleep Apnea

If you have symptoms of sleep apnea, you should make sure to talk with a doctor. Without understanding the root causes of your sleep apnea, it is difficult to treat. When necessary, the doctor can recommend an overnight sleep study to analyze your sleep, including your breathing.

If a person is diagnosed with OSA or CSA, treatment is often effective at improving sleep and reducing the risks of long-term health complications. A doctor familiar with a patients situation is in the best position to address potential benefits and risks of treatments and make specific recommendations.

Lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, reducing use of sedatives, and sleeping on your side, can resolve some cases of OSA. Another common treatment is nightly use of a continuous positive airway pressure or bi-level positive airway pressure machine. These devices push air through a mask and into the airway to keep it open during sleep.

Some types of mouthpieces that hold the jaw or tongue in a specific position are an option for people with certain anatomical features that trigger mild OSA. In addition, though usually not the first treatment option, surgery to remove tissue and expand the airway can be considered. Medications may be prescribed to help with daytime sleepiness in people with this symptom.

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What Are The Causes Of Sleep Apnea

What is Sleep Apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when a persons airway becomes blocked during sleep. Multiple factors have been found to increase the risk of blockage and OSA:

  • Anatomical characteristics. The size and positioning of a persons neck, jaw, tongue, tonsils, and other tissue near the back of the throat can directly affect airflow.
  • Obesity. Being overweight is a leading cause of OSA and may be an underlying risk factor in up to 60% of cases. Obesity contributes to anatomical narrowing of the airway, and research has found that a 10% increase in weight can equate to a six-fold increase in OSA risk.

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  • Sleeping on your back. This sleeping position makes it easier for tissue to collapse around the airway and cause blockages.
  • Nasal congestion. People whose ability to breathe through the nose is reduced because of congestion are more likely to experience OSA.
  • Hormone abnormalities. Hormone conditions like hypothyroidism and acromegaly may increase the risk of OSA by causing swelling of tissue near the airway and/or contributing to a persons risk of obesity.

In CSA, breathing is affected in a different way than in OSA. Instead of an obstruction causing breathing lapses, the problem arises in how the brain communicates with the muscles responsible for respiration. In particular, the brain stem fails to adequately perceive the levels of carbon dioxide in the body, leading to breathing that is slower and shallower than it should be.

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What Is Sleep Apneaa Complete Guide

This article is for general information purposes only and is not intended as medical or other professional advice. Visit the links within the text for sources. Casper has not independently verified the sources.

What is sleep apnea? Youve probably heard the term, and you may even suspect that you or a sleep partner or loved one has sleep apnea. Lets explore what sleep apnea is, its symptoms and causes, and some things you can do about it in this comprehensive guide.

Keep reading to learn all about sleep apnea and how it affects you.

Central Sleep Apnea Causes

Central sleep apnea occurs when the brain fails to send signals to the muscles that control breathing. This results in shortness of breath or difficulty with falling asleep or staying asleep. Central sleep apnea is less common than obstructive sleep apnea but shares some of the same causes and risk factors.

Common central sleep apnea causes include:

  • Being older
  • Frequent use of opioids such as methadone
  • Heart disorders, including congestive heart failure
  • Stroke

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Research For Your Health

The NHLBI is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Institutes of Health the Nations biomedical research agency that makes important scientific discovery to improve health and save lives. We are committed to advancing science and translating discoveries into clinical practice to promote the prevention and treatment of heart, lung, blood, and sleep disorders, including sleep apnea. Learn about the current and future NHLBI efforts to improve health through research and scientific discovery.

Mild Sleep Apnea Definition

Obstructive Sleep Apnea: An Update for Mental Health Providers

Lets begin with the clinical mild sleep apnea definition. Obstructive sleep apnea generally falls into one of three categories: Mild, moderate and severe.

On a case-by-cases basis, whether sleep apnea is regarded as mild, moderate or severe is determined based on how many times breathing stops when youre asleep. These breathing interruptions are called apneas a word derived from a Greek term that literally means a stop in breathing.

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, sleep thats interrupted five to 15 times per hour is defined as mild sleep apnea. Fifteen to 30 so-called events are rated as moderate sleep apnea, and the presence of more than 30 events per night is classified as severe sleep apnea.

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Mild Sleep Apnea Definition And Symptoms

The definition of mild sleep apnea is, put in its most basic terms, the least-advanced form of obstructive sleep apnea . But you can probably tell that just from its name. The real questions are: Does mild sleep apnea represent a serious health risk? And what are the symptoms of mild sleep apnea you should look out for?

Because mild sleep apnea means your sleep isnt interrupted as often as with more severe cases of sleep apnea, it can be harder to know if you have it. Nonetheless, people who have even a mild form of sleep apnea should be aware of the symptoms and risks, as well as the steps they can take to treat the condition and prevent it from becoming something more serious.

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