What is Sleep Apnea?

What is Sleep Apnea? PranaQ Sleep Better, Live Better

Sleep apnea is a serious disorder in which breathing can rapidly stop and restart while a person is sleeping, leaving them feeling tired upon waking up. This condition impacts more than 936 million people worldwide. Despite being one of the most common sleep disorders, more than 80% of patients suffering from the condition are undiagnosed.

The most common type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). This occurs when the muscles at the back of the throat relax too much and are unable to keep the airway open, which prevents the person from breathing properly during the night. The number of times this happens, as well as the duration, can vary greatly from person to person.

Depending on the severity, these breathing disruptions can severely damage sleep quality. During an apneic event, the person stops breathing properly, which in turn causes their brain to wake up partially to signal the body to breathe properly once more. Though the person might not fully wake every time, this disrupts the sleep pattern, preventing deep and restful sleep. People who suffer from OSA will often report feeling tired during the daytime, despite seemingly benefiting from a full night’s sleep.

Left untreated, OSA can lead to sleep deprivation, which can be devastating. It can seriously impede cognitive functioning, like a lack of concentration or memory loss. OSA is also the leading cause of a condition called Excessive Daytime Sleepiness. This can be particularly dangerous while driving. In fact, the department of transportation estimates about 30% of trucking accidents are due to untreated OSA¹. More generally, sleep deprivation can be detrimental to a person’s mental health, leading to depression, anxiety, and a general increased irritability.

Ironically known as the ‘silent killer’, the condition is usually linked to people who snore loudly. Research has shown that there are physical traits that can point to OSA – larger neck sizes, smaller jaws and airways, chin position, tongue thickness, etc. However, some other symptoms include frequent morning headaches, morning soreness from clenching one’s jaw, dry-mouth, and even excessive nighttime sweating. OSA manifests in many different ways for different people. In some cases, OSA is falsely diagnosed as insomnia and seeking proper treatment can improve insomnia symptoms. Additionally, studies have shown that proper treatment for OSA has positive effects on depression and anxiety symptoms in patients². It’s therefore incredibly important to consult a specialist who can conduct a proper diagnosis and manage a treatment plan if necessary.


1. https://www.truckwreckjustice.com/sleep-apnea-deadly-cause-trucking-fatigue/
2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5740695/ 

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