Sleep Apnea

Causes of obstructive sleep apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the muscles in the back of your throat relax. These muscles support the soft palate, the triangular piece of tissue hanging from the soft palate (uvula), the tonsils and the tongue.

When the muscles relax, your airway narrows or closes as you breathe in, and breathing momentarily stops. This may lower the level of oxygen in your blood. Your brain senses this inability to breathe and briefly rouses you from sleep so that you can reopen your airway. This awakening is usually so brief that you don’t remember it.

You can awaken with a transient shortness of breath that corrects itself quickly, within one or two deep breaths, although this is rare. You may make a snorting, choking or gasping sound. This pattern can repeat itself five to thirty times or more each hour, all night long. These disruptions impair your ability to reach the desired deep, restful phases of sleep, and you’ll probably feel sleepy during your waking hours.

People with obstructive sleep apnea may not be aware that their sleep was interrupted. In fact, many people with this type of sleep apnea think they sleep well all night.

Causes of central sleep apnea
Central sleep apnea, which is far less common, occurs when your brain fails to transmit signals to your breathing muscles. You may awaken with shortness of breath or have a difficult time getting or staying asleep. Like obstructive sleep apnea, snoring and daytime sleepiness can occur. The most common cause of central sleep apnea is heart disease, and less commonly stroke. People with central sleep apnea may be more likely to remember awakening than people with obstructive sleep apnea are.

Causes of complex sleep apnea
People with complex sleep apnea have upper airway obstruction just kike those with obstructive sleep apnea, but they also have a problem with the rhythm of breathing and occasional lapses of breathing effort.