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A Comprehensive Guide to Sleep Apnea

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a disorder that occurs particularly in older and overweight adults. If you have sleep apnea, your breathing briefly and repeatedly stops during sleep – generally a pause of at least ten seconds’ duration. The muscles in the back of your throat do not continually keep the airway open. In central sleep apnea, the brain fails to properly control breathing during sleep. However, OSA is far more common than central sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea can cause low blood oxygen levels. This deprivation, combined with the lack of sleep itself, can lead to mood and memory problems. It also increases the chance that you will be drowsy during the day and cause a motor vehicle or other accident. In fact, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has declared sleep disorders a public health epidemic – and linked it to diabetes, depression, hypertension, heart disease, cancer, and obesity. Untreated sleep apnea has also been linked to parasomnias (involuntary behaviors like sleepwalking, repeated drops in blood oxygen levels), and premature death.