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What is sleep apnoea?


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 apnoea.

What is sleep apnoea? “Apnoea” 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 apnoea, 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 apnoea 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)

More sleep apnoea

Sleep apnoea quiz
Find out if you’re at risk of sleep apnoea by taking this short quiz. You can then talk to your doctor about your results and get the medical care you need.
Types of sleep apnoea
Find out the differences between the three main types of sleep apnoea, and how to recognise the symptoms in yourself or loved ones.
Common symptoms of sleep apnoea
It’s important to recognise the symptoms of sleep apnoea so that you can take the necessary steps to improving your health. It’s also important to know that sleep apnoea is linked to a number of other conditions.