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What is sleep apnea?

sleep apnea definition in video by resmed

If you’ve tried improving your sleep, but still snore or wake up feeling tired, you may be at risk of a common sleep disorder called sleep apnea.

What is sleep apnea? “Apnea” literally means “no breath” or “stopping breathing”. 

Sensing you have stopped breathing, a control centre in your brain triggers you to wake up just enough to gasp and start breathing again. Then you fall back to sleep and the cycle begins again—this can happen more than 50 times every hour, even though you may not remember waking up.

When you have an apnea, air stops flowing to your lungs for 10 seconds or longer—that is, you actually stop breathing.

As you can imagine, being deprived of oxygen and constantly being triggered back into breathing—hour after hour, night after night—puts immense strain on your body.

Sleep apnea affects more than 3 in 10 men and nearly 1 in 5 women, so it’s more common than you might think.*

 

*Sleep-disordered breathing affects 34% of men and 17% of women aged between 30-70. Peppard et al. Increased Prevalence of Sleep-Disordered Breathing in Adults. Am J Epidemiol. 2013 (5.17)

Learn more about Sleep Apnea