Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most common category of sleep-disordered breathing. The muscle tone of the body ordinarily relaxes during sleep, and at the level of the throat walls of soft tissue which can obstruct breathing during sleep. Individuals with low muscle tone & soft tissue around the airway (e.g. because of obesity) and structural features that give rise to a narrowed airway are at high rist for obsturtive sleep apnea.
People with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) have disrupted sleep & low blood oxygen levels. When obstructive sleep apnea occurs, the tongue is sucked against the back of the throat. This blocks the upper airway and airflow stops. When the oxygen level in the brain becomes low enough, the sleeper partially awakens the obstruction in the throat clears and the flow of air starts again, usually with a load gasp.
Repeated cycles of decreased oxygenation lead to very serious cardiovascular problems. Additionally, these individuals suffer from excessive daytime sleepiness, depression and loss of concentration.
Anatomy Of Sleep Apnea Episode
As airflow stops during a sleep apnea episode, the oxygen level in your blood drops. Your brain responds by briefly disturbing your sleep enough to kick-start-breathing, which often resumes with a gasp or a chocking sound. If you obstructive sleep apnea, you probably would not remember these awakenings. Most of the time, you will stir just enough to tighten your throat muscles and open your wind pipe. In central sleep apnea, you may be concious of your awakenings.