Sleep apnea (AP-ne-ah) is a common disorder in which you have one or more pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while you sleep. Breathing pauses can last from a few seconds to minutes. They may occur 30 times or more an hour. The breathing pauses result in not enough air reaching your lungs. Typically (after the breathing pause), normal breathing starts again, sometimes with a loud snort or choking sound.
Sleep apnea usually is a chronic condition that disrupts your sleep. When your breathing pauses or becomes shallow, you will often move out of deep sleep into light sleep. The movement from deep sleep into light sleep results in your sleep quality being poor, which makes you tired during the day. Sleep apnea is a leading cause of excessive daytime sleepiness.
In obstructive sleep apnea, your airway collapses or is blocked during sleep. When you try to breathe, any air that squeezes past the blockage can cause loud snoring. Your snoring will be noticeable and may wake you other others in your house.
Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type of sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the muscles in the back of your throat relax. These muscles support the soft palate which are the triangular piece of tissue hanging from the soft palate (uvula), the tonsils and the side walls of the throat and the tongue.
When the muscles relax, your airway narrows or closes as you breathe in and you can not get an adequate breath in. This may lower the level of oxygen in your blood. Your brain senses this inability to breathe and briefly rouses you from sleep so that you can reopen your airway. This awakening is usually so brief that you do not remember it.
You may make a snorting, choking or gasping sound. This pattern can repeat itself 5 to 30 times or more each hour - all night long. These disruptions impair your ability to reach the desired deep, restful phases of sleep. This sleep deprivation causes you to feel sleepy during your waking hours.
People with obstructive sleep apnea may not be aware that their sleep was interrupted. In fact, some people with this type of sleep apnea think they sleep well all night.
Causes of Central Sleep Apnea
Central sleep apnea is a less common form of sleep apnea that occurs when your brain fails to transmit signals to your breathing muscles. This means you make no effort to breathe for a short period of time. You may awaken with shortness of breath or have a difficult time getting to sleep or staying asleep.
The signs and symptoms of obstructive and central sleep apneas overlap, sometimes making the type of sleep apnea more difficult to determine. The most common signs and symptoms of obstructive and central sleep apneas include:
Abrupt awakenings accompanied by shortness of breath, which more likely indicates central sleep apnea,
Awakening with a dry mouth or sore throat,
Difficulty staying asleep (insomnia),
Episodes of breathing cessation during sleep witnessed by another person,
Excessive daytime sleepiness (hypersomnia),
Loud snoring, which is usually more prominent in obstructive sleep apnea,
However, it is important to note that some patients might not have any or many of the above symptoms but instead present with cardiac or neurological problems such as:
Narcolepsy is a chronic brain disorder that involves poor control of sleep-wake cycles. People with narcolepsy experience periods of extreme daytime sleepiness and sudden, irresistible bouts of sleep that can strike at any time. These “sleep attacks” usually last a few seconds to several minutes.
Narcolepsy can greatly affect daily activities. People may unwillingly fall asleep while at work or at school, when having a conversation, playing a game, eating a meal, or, most dangerously, when driving or operating other types of machinery. In addition to daytime sleepiness, other major symptoms may include cataplexy (a sudden loss of voluntary muscle tone while awake that makes a person go limp or unable to move), vivid dream-like images or hallucinations, as well as total paralysis just before falling asleep or just after waking-up.
and other medical conditions. Sleep disorders also have been linked to an increased risk of injury, such as falling (in the elderly) and car accidents.
People usually are not aware of their breathing and movements while sleeping. Family members may or may not tell you about your breathing and movements while you sleep. People usually never think to talk to their doctors about issues that might be related to sleep problems.
CPAP or any PAP (positive airway pressure) device is not covered through the BC Medical Service Plan. However, the BC Ministry of Health do provide some subsidies for low income families. Some private health insurance carriers may cover some of the costs. You would have to consult with your private carrier to determine eligible costs.
Tranq Sleep Care does not provide, nor is involved in, recommending any specific brand of, or selling of, CPAP machines. We are not affiliated with any specific Home Care Company. It is entirely your choice which company and brand to use based on your requirements. Our job is to provide you with an objective and unbiased diagnosis and treatment recommendation based on the current clinical guidelines in British Columbia and practice guidelines published by American Academy of Sleep Medicine which is the governing body and the authority in the field of Sleep Medicine.
Yes. Our Kelowna, Kootenay Sleep Center and Northern BC Sleep Center sleep labs are accredited polysomnography facilities. The accreditation designation is from the Board of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia.
All the visits to our sleep physicians for consultation are covered by BC Medical Services Plan. Other Provincial Medical Services Plans also cover the costs for out of province patients. The cost of your overnight sleep study is also covered by BC Medical Services Plan.
Sleep studies are painless. The polysomnogram(PSG), and multiple sleep latency test (MSLT), are done at a sleep centre. The sleep study room may look like a hotel room. A technician makes the room comfortable for you and monitors your sleep.