Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that affects a person’s breathing during sleep. When not treated, sleep apnea can cause shallow breathing and pauses that last between 10 and 20 seconds, interrupting the natural sleep rhythm during the night. As a result, the person experiences poor quality of sleep and often suffers from excessive daytime sleepiness and other sleep deprivation symptoms.
Generally speaking, there are three kinds of sleep apnea: obstructive, central and mixed. The obstructive sleep apnea is caused by partial or complete blockage of the airways during sleep and is usually accompanied by loud and disruptive snoring, morning headaches and excessive daytime sleepiness due to the sleep interruptions. The other sleep apnea type, the central sleep apnea, is caused when the brain fails to properly signal to the muscles that control the breathing. Symptoms are usually shortness of breath that leads to awakenings, fatigue and poor quality of sleep. The mixed or complex sleep apnea, as the name suggests, is a combination of the two. Obstructive sleep apnea is the far more common variety.
Depending on the sleep apnea type you’re suffering from, you can be administered different treatments. Factors such as being overweight, a smoker and over the age of 65 have been associated with an increased risk of developing sleep apnea. Generally, however, obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the muscles at the back of the throat relax and the airways close in, restricting the oxygen supply to the brain. This causes the snorting, choking or gasping sounds, associated with sleep apnea. There are different strategies for sleep apnea relief, including drugs and natural products that enhance the quality of sleep and relieve the causes and symptoms of sleep apnea. The most common treatment however includes making lifestyle changes and introducing a breathing apparatus in order to relieve the symptoms of sleep apnea.