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.
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.
Treatment often starts with behavioral therapy. Many patients are told to avoid alcohol, sleeping pills, and other sedatives, which can relax throat muscles, contributing to the collapse of the airway at night.As sleep apnea is inherently worse in the supine position for many patients (positional sleep apnea), sleeping on one's side is often advised.