top of page
Sleep Apnoea
sleep apnoea diagram

Sleep Apnoea

Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is a serious medical condition that often goes undiagnosed. If you have a bed partner ask them to assess you for possible symptoms.

There are two types of breathing interruption characteristic of OSA:

  • Apnoea –  This is when the muscles and soft tissues in the throat relax and collapse sufficiently to cause a total blockage of the airway; it’s called an apnoea when the airflow is blocked for 10 seconds or more,

  • Hypopnoea – This is a partial blockage of the airway that results in an airflow reduction of greater than 50% for 10 seconds or more.

These episodes of Apnoea and Hypopnoea can be experienced throughout the night, and in some severe cases, occurring once every one-two minutes.

The lack of oxygen experienced in OSA leads to:

High blood pressure leading to stroke, heart disease and heart attack, atrial fibrillation, type two diabetes, depression, and mood changes.

Excessive daytime sleepiness may lead to accidents to self and others.

Symptoms include:


  • Snoring (the upper airway maybe restricted during sleep, note, alcohol increases the collapsibility of the upper airway thus exacerbating the condition. Try sleeping on one side and then the other to see if the snoring stops, or reduces. Sleeping on your back exacerbates OSA. Snoring can be a strain on relationships!!

  • Waking up chocking or gasping (the result is usually an abrupt disturbance to sleep or an actual awakening, often accompanied by gasping or choking).

  • Unrefreshed Sleep (this is when we could go back to sleep within half an hour of waking up). It is caused by interruptions in the airway leading to more arousal during the night reducing our restorative sleep.

  • Excessive Daytime Sleepiness (this can negatively affect cognition, daytime functioning, mood, and other aspects of well-being).

  • Morning Headaches (caused by an increase in carbon dioxide levels in the blood stream due to OSA)

  • Nocturnal Sweating (higher cortisol levels in the blood required to awaken us up during periods of stopped breathing raising our body temperature).

If any of these symptoms are indicated it is crucial to consult with your GP who can refer you to a sleep clinic for treatment.

bottom of page