4 MIN READ | Health Psychology

6 Things About Sleep Apnoea You Need to Know

Tommy Williamson

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Tommy Williamson, (2021, February 23). 6 Things About Sleep Apnoea You Need to Know. Psychreg on Health Psychology. https://www.psychreg.org/sleep-apnoea/
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People who have been feeling exhausted for quite some time and are not sure why that is happening might be dealing with undiagnosed sleep apnoea. This relatively known condition causes your breathing to stop repeatedly. 

This usually happens when you are sleeping, and it approximately affects almost 20 million people in the US alone. This conclusion was made by the National Sleep Foundation. Unfortunately, a lot of people are not aware of this issue.

This often leads to misdiagnosis. However, if you get your facts straight, you just might recognise the symptoms on time and find the right treatment for it. To help you figure out whether you are having this problem or not, we are going to share some useful information.

There isn’t only one type of sleep apnoea

A lot of people think that there is only one type of this condition. Well, that’s not really the case. Namely, you have one kind that is the most common. It’s called obstructive sleep apnoea. Besides that one, there is another less common type.

It’s called central sleep apnoea. Now, when it comes to obstructive sleep apnoea, you will feel like the upper way is blocked, either fully or partially while you sleep. On the other hand, with the second kind, the brain is the culprit because it doesn’t say your muscles to breathe.

Many scientists think that there’s even a third type of this condition known as complex sleep apnoea syndrome. There are various signs and symptoms of this issue. Different people experience different things and each of these symptoms requires different medicine.

Some of the best treatments

There are a couple of treatments worth mentioning and one of them is CPAP Machine. A lot of patients use it because it is the safest and most reliable alternative. Still, you have to make sure you obtain a good CPAP cleaner to help you properly take care of this device. If you don’t, grime and dirt that piled up in the meantime are going to make a breeding ground for any bacteria which can potentially lead to a respiratory infection.

How does this machine work? It pushes a steady stream of air via the mask that you’re wearing and it keeps the airway open. With its help, you will sleep better and at the same time snore less (or maybe not at all).

Another solid treatment is also a machine called BiPAP. Just like a CPAP it also provides you with a stream of air and keeps the airways open. Furthermore, it doesn’t give the same amount of pressure constantly. That’s the difference between these two devices. 

ASV short for adapto servo ventilation is another machine that adapts airflow based on breathing. Besides that one, you will also come across the VPAP (variable positive airway pressure device) that provides patients with different amounts of air while they are breathing.

All these machines can seem a bit intimidating, especially if you’ve never tried them out before, however, for the time being, they are certainly the best options for anyone who has been dealing with sleep apnoea. 

Who gets It?

According to some statistics, this issue strikes approximately 25% of men and almost ten percent of women. Now, what’s scary about it is that there is no age limit. Anyone can suffer from it, even kids and babies.

However, on a more positive note, people that are older than 50 are more prone to it and those who are dealing with any weight issues. Particular clinical features, as well as physical traits, are common in people with obstructive sleep apnoea.

Namely, they typically involve people who are excessive fat, huge neck, and structural abnormalities which affect the diameter of the upper airway, for example, a nasal obstruction, enlarged tonsils, tiny jaw with an overbite, soft palate.

Common symptoms

The most common one is snoring. Still, it doesn’t mean that just because you are snoring that you’ve been suffering from sleep apnoea. Usually, people who have this issue have quiet breathing pauses or may experience gasping or choking.

As we mentioned at the beginning, those who’ve been battling this are frequently very sleepy and tired for no apparent reasons. Besides snoring, there are a couple of more things that you’ll be dealing with and they include:

  • Loud snoring
  • Gasping or choking sounds
  • Quiet pauses in breathing
  • Feeling exhausted even after waking up
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue or daytime sleepiness
  • Nocturia (waking up during the night just to go to the bathroom)
  • Headaches in the morning
  • Irritability 
  • No desire to have sex
  • Awful memory
  • Difficulty concentrating

You can experience a lot of episodes during one night

Once the body temporarily stops breathing, it is defined as apnoea because the blood oxygen levels drop immediately. The brain responds to this occurrence by rousing the body from sleep. This arousal restarts normal breathing.

All of this can affect your sleep and it can happen frequently, approximately hundreds of times during the night. That’s why so many people feel exhausted during the day like they haven’t slept at all.

How can you diagnose sleep apnoea?

Once you go to the doctor, he or she is going to evaluate your symptoms and will try to make a sleep evaluation with a sleep specialist. Besides that he/she can also order some form of overnight sleep study to determine whether you are suffering from it or not.

You will have testing that involves an overnight sleep study known as PSG, polysomnogram. It is performed in a laboratory under the supervision of a trained professional. During this test, a lot of body functions (muscle activity, breathing patterns, heart rate, etc) are being recorded during the night. 

If you’re an adult, you will have an HST (Home Sleep Test) instead. This is a study that can be performed in the comfort of your house. It records several body functions, such as breathing effort, snoring, airflow, and blood oxygen.

Final thoughts

All these facts that we’ve provided you with may appear to be scary and intimidating. Still, do not let the fear stop you from going to the doctor. As you can see, there are a number of amazing treatments that can truly help you overcome this condition and live normally. 


Tommy Williamson did his degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. He has an ongoing interest in mental health and well-being.


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