You wake in the night, sometimes with a fright, and aren’t clear about what woke you. Perhaps you have sleep disorder called sleep apnoea.


Sleep apnoea is a disorder characterised by a reduction or stopping of breathing during sleep. There are two types of sleep disorders, the more common obstructive sleep apnoea and the less common central sleep apnoea. There are several tests that may be used to confirm the diagnosis and treatment can be surgical or nonsurgical.

An apnoea is a period of time during which breathing stops. Alternately breathing is markedly reduced. In simplified terms, an apnoea occurs when a person stops breathing for 10 seconds or more. So, if normal breath airflow is 70 percent to 100 percent, an apnoea is if you stop breathing completely, or take less than 25 percent of a normal breath (for a period that lasts 10 seconds or more).

Apnoeas usually occur during sleep. The apnoea disrupts sleep. Sometimes you wake up completely, but sometimes you just come out of a deep level of sleep and into a more shallow level of sleep.

Effects of sleep apnoea

If left untreated, sleep apnea can increase the risk of health problems, including:

  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Heart failure, irregular heart beats, and heart attacks
  • Diabetes
  • Depression
  • Worsening of ADHD
  • Headaches

There is a strong correlation between overweight/obesity and sleep apnoea, and many men find that once they reach a normal body weight, the apnoea disappears.

In conclusion if you suffer from sleep apnoea, see your doctor. It can be a dangerous condition and – at best – it can cause you many hours of accumulative lost sleep.

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