A good night sleep is a rewarding moment, for all of us who are too much preoccupied with the stressful demands of work, school and other related activities which tend to make us productive and successful in the future. But, did you know that there are people who cannot make the most out of their much needed respite because of a sleep disorder which is medically termed as sleep apnea? Medically, this kind of sleep disturbance is characterized by pauses in breathing, or a shallow way of respiration during one’s sound sleep. In this respect, apnea is defined as a temporary stoppage in breathing. As for its duration, it can possibly last for about ten seconds or more. To accurately diagnose this kind of sickness, a patient has to undergo the scientific process of polysomnogram. It is otherwise known as sleep study. Categorically, an apnea of sleep is classified into three main types. These are:Central Sleep, the Obstructive Sleep and Mixed Sleep Apnea.

A schematic diagram of sleep apnea.

A schematic diagram of sleep apnea.

Moreover, those people who are suffering from this type of illness are rarely aware of their breathing difficulties alongside with their awakened states. Meanwhile, its distinctive signs and symptoms may be present for a couple of years or more. Effects wise, it can severely affect both young and old alike. Generally, the most common signs and symptoms of this sleeping problem are as follows: An Excessive Daytime Sleeplessness (EDS), daytime fatigue, visual impairments and a much slower reaction time. Accordingly, there are medical tests that clearly show that the varying parts of the human brain are the one’s responsible for the occurrence of this debilitating sleep malady. Conversely, this particular medical concern can also cause another alarming situation which is known as sleep paralysis. To define, it is the inability of a person to move temporarily when asleep or even in a conscious state. Hence, the main cause of sleep paralysis is the weakening of an individual’s muscles which happen during sleep or the non-sleep states respectively.

Different Kinds of Sleep Apnea

As previously mentioned, there are three major classifications of this lethal sleep disorder. We have the Mixed Sleep, Complex, Central and the Obstructive Sleep Apnea. To differentiate, the subsequent paragraphs will slowly enlighten your thoughts on the matter.

  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea– This is being regarded as the most common category of this unusual sleep disorder, wherein the muscle tones of the body are in their relaxed states during sleep. Likewise, the level of an individual’s throat which is being referred to as human airways are mainly comprised of collapsible walls with soft tissues that are primarily responsible for an obstructed breathing process during sleep. In situations where it happen too frequently, the immediate need for a medical attention is badly needed. This is to prevent the occurrence of a low blood oxygen and other known side effects.
  • Central Sleep Apnea– This kind of sleep disturbance, only happens when the brain’s respiratory control gets imbalanced during sleep. Furthermore, the blood levels of carbon- dioxide as well as the neurological systems that do some surveillance acts inside the brain and the whole body fail to react as soon as possible; to foster a harmonious and equal rate of respiration. Thus, in this type of medical condition there is a temporary pause in breathing and then it resumes again. Noticeably, there is no chest movement nor a case of physical struggle in this type of sleep disorder. Meanwhile, after an episode of sleep apnea the victim’s manner of breathing may become faster for quite some time in order to do some compensatory acts of blowing off those retained gases while getting in more oxygen as much as possible.
  • Mixed Sleep Apnea– In simpler terms, this can be explained as the combination of both the obstructive and central sleep apneas which are best characterized by the sudden loss of the respiratory drive of the human body during sleep. Also, this type of sleeping sickness is closely associated with neurological dysfunctions, cardiovascular problems and a case of an Excessive Daytime Sleeplessness or EDS.
  • Complex Sleep Apnea– This is the novel characterization of an apnea because sleepers tend to exhibit the evident symptoms of OSA but upon the application of a positive airway pressure, the sleep disorder becomes a persistent form of Central Sleep Apnea.

Other Signs and Symptoms

The other common signs and symptoms of this sleep disorder are:

  • Fatigue
  • Impaired Alertness
  • Decreased attention span
  • Moodiness


To accurately diagnose any kind of these sleep disorders, it has to be a joint medical evaluation of its signs and symptoms alongside with the results of a comprehensive sleep study. This is medically alluded to as polysomnography. Briefly, it is a kind of diagnosis which scientifically attempts to establish relevant diagnostic indicators such as the quantity of apneic events per hour of sleep or the critical examination of the Respiratory Disturbance Index. Moreover, the scientific method of oximetry can be adopted in the diagnosis of this sleep disorder. In this kind of diagnosis, it can be carefully done at home by a qualified health professional. Simply, if a patient’s sleep respiration is normal then, the alarming case of such a disorder may be totally disregarded.

Treatment Modalities

Among the most effective treatments for this kind of sleep disorder are the following:

  • Behavioral Therapy-This includes the comprehensive counseling methods, which instruct the patient to avoid alcohol intake, sleeping pills and other kinds of sedatives.
  • Continuous Positive Airway Pressure-This is usually applied to moderate and severe cases of this type of sleeping problem. To facilitate the treatment process, there is a kind of device which is being utilized. This is called as the Automatic Positive Airway Pressure. The said medical apparatus is aimed towards the splinting of the patient’s airways as open as possible during sleep. It is being done through the use of a facial mask, which is actually filled in with pressurized air that has to be connected to a tube leading all the way to a portable CPAP machine. In so doing, it will generate the necessary airway pressure to keep the patient’s air passages open during bedtime.

Sleep apnea may be currently irreversible. But, science never sleeps. There is no turning back until such time that its victims are on their way to a glorious recovery that never fades nor falters no matter what happens in the years ahead.

Category: Health

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