Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by pauses in breathing or instances of shallow or infrequent breathing during sleep. Each pause in breathing, called an apnea, can last for several seconds to several minutes, and may occur, by definition, at least 5 times in an hour. Similarly, each abnormally shallow breathing event is called a hypopnea. Sleep apnea is classified as a dyssomnia, meaning abnormal behavior or psychological events occur during sleep.
People have issues with excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) and impaired alertness. In other words, common effects of sleep apnea include daytime fatigue, a slower reaction time, and vision problems.SA may increase risk for driving accidents and work-related accidents. If SA is not treated, one has an increased risk of other health problems such as diabetes.
1 in 5 adults has mild SA and 1 in 5 has moderate or severe SA. 1/3 of the population over age 15 is at risk for SA, as well as 5-10% of the pediatric population. 80-90% of sleep breathing disorders remain undiagnosed. Patients suffering from sleep breathing disorders have lower levels of employment compared to healthy patients.