Types of sleep-disordered breathing


There are three types of sleep-disordered breathing: Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA), Central Sleep Apnoea (CSA) and mixed or complex sleep apnoea. Each type has distinctive characteristics that enable diagnosis.


Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA)


Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) is the most common form of sleep-disordered breathing (SDB), affecting more than three in ten men and nearly one in five women1. Patients who suffer from OSA often experience partial or full upper airway collapse during sleep.


Central Sleep Apnoea (CSA)


Central Sleep Apnoea (CSA) is less common than OSA2. Unlike OSA patients who have partially or fully blocked upper airways that restrict breathing, patients with Central Sleep Apnoea (CSA) have a central nervous system disorder. This means either the breathing centre in the brain fails to trigger breathing, or the signal to inhale is not transmitted properly to the rest of the patient’s body.



Mixed sleep apnoea

Mixed sleep apnoea is a combination of Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) and Central Sleep Apnoea (CSA). While mixed sleep apnoea is more common than CSA, it still is less prevalent than OSA3.


More sleep-disordered breathing

Central Sleep Apnea (CSA) treatment options
ResMed helps you to guide your patient to the best and appropriate OSA treatment options available. These include CPAP, PAP, APAP, bilevel therapy and oral appliance therapy.
Common symptoms of SDB
The first sign of a sleep disorder is snoring, even though many patients won’t identify that as a sign of something more serious. There are other common symptoms too.
Sleep disordered breathing and chronic diseases
When left untreated, patients with SDB like OSA and CSA have an increased risk of developing serious chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes. A significant number of patients with COPD also have SDB.


  1. Sleep-disordered breathing affects 34% of men and 17% of women aged between 30-70. Peppard et al. Am J Epidemiol. 2013
  2. Morgenthaler TI, Kagramanov V, Hanak V, Decker PA. Complex sleep apnea syndrome: is it a unique clinical syndrome?. Sleep 2006 Sep;29(9):1203-9. 
  3. Mayo Clinic. “Mayo Clinic Discovers New Type Of Sleep Apnea.” ScienceDaily.