Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea frequently asked questions and answers.

The sleep apnea frequently asked questions and answers addresses many of the most common questions concerning sleep apnea and the way that the SAM mattress meets the needs of poeple who suffer with the sleep apnea disorder.

Before addressing sleep apnea as a disorder and its frequently asked question and answers, it is important to understand snoring and why it occurs.

What is snoring and why does it occur?

Snoring is caused by a narrow airway. That’s because air travels faster through a slender tube than through a broad one. This rapidly moving air causes the soft tissues of the throat (the tonsils, soft palate, and uvula) to vibrate. It is this vibration which is the sound of snoring.

Many things can take up space in the airway reducing its diameter. These can include large tonsils, a long soft palate or uvula, and, in people who are overweight, excessively flabby tissue. The most common cause of a narrow airway is a tongue that relaxes too much during sleep and gets sucked back into the airway with each breath taken.

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is defined as the interuption or cessation of breathing during sleep.

Apnea specialists generally agree that there are three different types of sleep apnea: obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea, and mixed sleep apnea. Of these three types, obstructive sleep apnea is the most common; central sleep apnea is rare; mixed sleep apnea is a combination of both obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea.

What is obstructive sleep apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea is characterized by repetitive pauses in breathing during sleep due to the obstruction and/or collapse of the upper airway (throat), usually accompanied by a reduction in blood oxygen saturation, and followed by an awakening to breathe. This is called an apnea event. Respiratory effort continues during the episodes of apnea.

What is central sleep apnea?

Central Sleep Apnea is defined as a neurological condition causing cessation of all respiratory effort during sleep, usually with decreases in blood oxygen saturation. If the brainstem center controlling breathing shuts down there’s no respiratory effort and no breathing. The person is aroused from sleep by an automatic breathing reflex, so may end up getting very little sleep at all.

Note that central sleep apnea, which is a neurogical disorder, is very different in cause than obstructive sleep apnea, which is a physical blockage – though the effects are highly similar.

What is mixed sleep apnea?

Mixed sleep apnea is a combination of both obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea. An episode of mixed sleep apnea usually starts with a central sleep apnea and then becomes obstructive in nature. Generally the central component of the sleep apnea becomes less troublesome once the obstructive sleep apnea is treated.

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