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Breaking Down Sleep Apnea

As the medical community begins to better understand the importance of a high quality sleep experience for human beings, we need the better define and understand our sleep experiences to stay as well rested as possible. Sleep Apnea is one of the most common sleep disorders, and has been linked to other health concerns such as cancer, high blood pressure, and obesity. Here are some basic facts about sleep apnea to better help understand the disorder.

Sleep Apnea: This occurs when an airway of a sleeping person’s throat is blocked or narrowed causing the individual to have an apnea or hypopnea episode.

Apnea episode: A pause in breathing during sleep (usually longer than 10 seconds, but brief apnea episodes are common)

Hypopnea episode: A decrease in airflow during sleep

Causes: Typically when muscles in the upper throat relax at night, narrower throats can cause breathing to be strained or stop. But there are potential causes other than a narrow throat, such as a shorter lower jaw, a particular palate or airway shape that becomes too narrow, a large neck, a large tongue, obesity or large tonsils and adenoids in children.


Feeling grumpy, impatient or irritable

Becoming forgetful

Falling sleep working, driving, watching television, or reading a book

Headaches that are difficult to treat


Hyperactive behavior in children

Treatment: There are several different options for treatment, it all differs depending on how severe the sleep apnea is. Some solutions are as simple as sleeping on your back. Others are a little more in depth, like the CPC (continual positive airway pressure), which is a machine attached to a tight mask that you wear over your nose and mouth at night. Other cases call for invasive surgery to make structural changes to the face.

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