Sleep Apnea is a sleeping disorder that happens when a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep. It is one of the most common sleep disorders in the United States in both children and adults. An estimated 22 million Americans suffer from lack of sleep – and even exhaustion – caused by sleep apnea.
There are three types of Sleep Apnea, the most common being Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA).
Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the airway at the back of the throat becomes physically blocked and causes temporary lapses in breathing. Multiple factors increase the risk of blockage when you sleep. This includes obesity, use of sedatives, family history, cigarette smoking, and sleeping on your back. Anatomical characteristics can also directly affect airflow.
When we sleep, the combination of gravity and our muscles relaxing allows the tongue and surrounding soft tissues to fall back into the throat obstructing airflow in the airway. This causes pauses in breathing. These pauses are called apneas and they can happen hundreds of times a night interrupting the body’s natural sleep cycle and preventing the deep sleep our bodies need for restoration. If left untreated, obstructive sleep apnea can lead to serious health complications, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.