What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is characterized by pauses in breathing that prevent air from flowing into or out of a sleeping person’s airway. People with sleep apnea awaken frequently during the night gasping for breath sometimes over 50 times per hour. They do not remember these awakenings as they are for a few seconds and are considered micro-arousals.

When breathing stops, blood oxygen levels are reduced and there is strain on the heart and cardiovascular system. People with untreated sleep apnea have an increased risk of hypertension, stroke, diabetes, arrhythmias, depression, reflux, impotence and more. Obesity and a large neck can contribute to sleep apnea. Sleep apnea can be treated.  Men and women who snore loudly, and especially those that have been observed to have momentary lapses in breathing or gasping for air, should consult a sleep specialist such as Dr. Michael Simmons.