Who doesn’t look forward to a restful night’s sleep after an active day of working or recreational exercise? Sleep allows our bodies to recharge, gearing up for another 16 hours or more of life, driving, walking, working out, attending meetings or taking care of children. Those with sleep apnea, however, may not experience the deep sleep needed to rejuvenate the body. Sleep apnea (AP-ne-ah) is a common but potentially serious sleep disorder in which shallow breathing or pauses in breathing occur while sleeping.
These involuntary interruptions in breathing can last just a few seconds or extend for a frighteningly long span of minutes. When normal breathing resumes it is sometimes accompanied by a resounding snort or choking sound. The pauses in breathing can happen every few minutes in some cases, preventing deep sleep from occurring. Sleep apnea patients often present with symptoms of excessive and persistent daytime sleepiness.
“Apnea” is a Greek word that means “without breath.” There are three types of sleep apnea, obstructive, central and mixed. Each leads to a hitch in breathing, but for different reasons. Typically, the sleeper isn’t even aware of these lulls. According to sleepapnea.org, without treatment sleep apnea can lead to cardiovascular disorders like high blood pressure, heart disease or stroke; automobile accidents caused by falling asleep at the wheel; memory problems, weight gain, headaches and other maladies.