Sleep apnea is a common condition in which people who have not been treated for it stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, sometimes hundreds of times during the night and often for a minute or longer. In ‘Obstructive sleep apnea’, there is a blockage of the airway, usually when soft tissue in the throat collapses and closes during sleep. In central sleep apnea, the airway is not blocked but the brain fails to signal the muscles to breathe.
Sleep apnea is very common, and risk factors include being male, overweight, and over the age of forty. However, it can occur at any age, even children. Untreated, sleep apnea can cause high blood pressure, memory problems, weight gain, impotency, and headaches. However, sleep apnea can be treated.