Sleep Apnea’s Two Distinct Types

By | October 16, 2016

People who have a difficult time getting to sleep at night or staying asleep may have a common medical condition. Sleep problems can occur in both adults and children and they are not gender specific. If you are experiencing problems with breathing when you sleep, you are not alone and there is a medical term for this condition.

The medical term is called sleep apnea. Children rarely experience sleep apnea, it is mostly seen in adults and again, it is not gender specific. There are two forms of sleep apnea, one is called obstructive sleep apnea and the other is central sleep apnea. Most people suffer from obstructive sleep apnea versus central sleep apnea. When diagnosing sleep apnea, a patient’s medical history along with sleep habits and other tests are used for verification. This sleep disorder can be treated by way of surgery or non-invasively.

The term apnea simply means that there are increments of time during sleep when breathing is either greatly diminished or stops altogether. If your breathing stops for more than 10 seconds or your normal air intake is less than 25% when you are sleeping, you may be suffering from this sleep disorder.

In some cases, the person suffering from this sleep disorder will totally wake up or may just move from a deep sleep to a lighter sleep. At a sleep center a patient is usually monitored while sleeping for a minimum of 2 hours.

Central sleep apnea is triggered when the brain stops sending the indicator to breathe to the appropriate muscles. This form of apnea is common in both infants and adults who suffer from heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, or congenital diseases. It should be noted that certain drugs and even high altitudes could cause central sleep apnea.

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs in the soft palate and reaches down to the base of the tongue. When a person is awake, the muscles in this area assist in keeping the passage open. Because there are no inflexible formations, like cartilage or bone in this location to keep the airway open, when a person who is experiencing this apnea goes to sleep, their muscles relax so much so that the airway itself shuts down and becomes obstructed.

As the airway shuts off, your breathing come to a screeching halt, and it is then necessary for you to wake up to allow your airway to open again. The awakening from sleep typically is only for a few short seconds, but even minimal periods of awakening can upset continuous sleep and put a roadblock in your way when it comes to getting to the deep stages of rest, like the type of sleep called rapid eye movement or REM sleep, which the body requires so that it can rest and restore its strength appropriately. For most people who suffer from apnea, when normal breathing has returned, the person can typically go back to sleep, but process is continually repeated throughout the night.

Visit Sleep Disorders Guide for more information on sleep apnea or to find a sleep center near you.