Sleep Apnoea is a breathing disorder characterised by brief pauses in breathing during sleep. Most commonly the muscles of the upper airway collapse, therefore blocking a person’s airway during sleep. This leads to temporary cessation of breathing causing gasping and partial wakening. Sleep is fragmented and the oxygen level in the blood decreases due to the apnoea. These breathing pauses are almost always accompanied by snoring between apnoea episodes, although not everyone who snores has this condition. Sleep apnoea can also be characterised by choking sensations. These episodes occur commonly during a stage where upper airway muscles are particularly relaxed. Regular interruption of sleep can have a cumulative negative impact on health and behaviour if left untreated.
What are the symptoms?
- The most frequent symptom is daytime tiredness which may lead to falling asleep while reading, during a conversation or driving a vehicle
- Loud and irregular snoring
- Headache on waking
- Difficulty in concentrating
- Memory Loss
- Witnessed apnoeas by bed partner
If you have these symptoms see your GP who may refer you to a specialised Sleep Clinic.
- Diagnosis of sleep apnoea is not simple because there can be many different reasons for disturbed sleep. Several tests are available for evaluating a person for sleep apnoea.
- Diagnostic tests usually are performed in a sleep clinic or lab by monitoring your sleep overnight. New technology may allow some sleep studies to be conducted in the patient’s home.
Patients may spend 1 night under assessment in the hospital. The results would determine whether sleep apnoea is present and CPAP therapy is required.