What is Sleep Apnea? (Definition)
Sleep apnea (AP-ne-ah) is a relatively common disorder which causes pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while you sleep. These pauses in normal breathing can last from a few seconds to minutes. They may occur 30 times or more an hour. Typically, normal breathing then starts again, sometimes with a loud snort or choking sound.
Sleep apnea usually is a chronic (ongoing) condition and is disruptive to sleep. When breathing pauses or becomes shallow, the affected person often move out of deep sleep and into light sleep. Sleep apnea is a leading cause of excessive daytime sleepiness.
Most people who have sleep apnea don’t know they have it because it only occurs while they are sleeping. A family member or bed partner might be the first to notice signs of sleep apnea.
The most common type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea. In this condition, the airway collapses or becomes blocked during sleep. This causes shallow breathing or breathing pauses.
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