Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a common disorder that involves difficulty breathing when asleep. The word “apnea” literally translates from the Latin to “without breathing.” A familiar symptom of sleep apnea is snoring, which occurs during the night when a person is gasping for air. Though snoring is common, just because you snore it doesn’t mean you necessarily have sleep apnea. Nonetheless, this gasping that causes snoring prevents healthy sleep, particularly because it reduces the time spent in restorative deep sleep (Carskadon & Rechtschaffen, 1994). The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute estimated in 2006 that one in fifteen people suffer from sleep apnea. Other indicators of sleep apnea include waking up tired, being overweight, the distribution of fat in the stomach and neck areas, menopause, and heredity. Recent population health studies have found that those with untreated sleep apnea have a five times higher morbidity rate than those with treated sleep apnea. (Nieto, Young, Lind, Shahar, Samet, et al., 2000). If you think you or someone you know might have sleep apnea, see a doctor and get the appropriate diagnosis and treatment.