What is sleep apnea?
Sleep Apnoea is a respiratory and sleep disorder where the airway is either partially (hypopnea) or fully (apnoea) obstructed for 10 seconds or more several times through the night and sleep is interrupted. These respiratory events are scored on a scale called the Apnoea Hypopnea Index (AHI), which tells us the average number of events occurring per hour throughout the night. We will refer to this scale throughout the website:Apnoea Hypopnea Index (AHI) NORMAL less than 5 MILD from 5-15 MODERATE from 16-30 SEVERE more than 30 It is normal to have five of these events per hour, however once the events become more frequent your quality of life can become seriously affected. Typically a respiratory event (apnoea or hypopnea) consists of:
- Blocked airway preventing oxygen entry into the body (from 10 seconds to 3 minutes in duration)
- Blood oxygen levels drop
- Receptors in body pick up on this and send a signal to the brain
- Brain releases adrenalin and cortisol
- This causes an arousal (waking) to allow the person to breathe (usually only lasts between 5-10 seconds)
- Person falls back asleep and cycle continues.
In essence sleep apnoea is two pronged attack – a lack of oxygen in the body and interrupted sleep, both of which can have alarming side effects.
Low blood oxygen levels place increased strain on the heart, which has to compensate by working harder to pump more blood around the body. Frequent waking in order to breathe impacts on the amount and quality of sleep required for normal functioning, resulting in depression, loss of concentration, lack of energy, weight gain and excessive sleepiness.
Imagine working for eight hours and having someone pop in every two minutes for 10 seconds then leave. It disrupts your work and it is irritating and less productive. You wouldn’t allow this to keep happening in the workplace so why let it happen to your sleep?
How do I know if I should get tested? Take our FREE SLEEP QUIZ