"Apnoea" literally means "no breath" or "stopping breathing"

When you have sleep apnoea, air stops flowing to your lungs for 10 seconds or longer – that is, you actually stop breathing. Sensing you have stopped breathing, a control centre in your brain triggers you to wake up just enough to take a breath. Then you fall back to sleep and the cycle begins again. In some people this can happen over 30 times every hour even though you may not remember waking up.

As you can imagine, constantly being triggered back into breathing, hour after hour, night after night, can put a strain on your body. You may feel very tired day after day yet not realise that you’ve been waking up so many times at night as a result of having sleep apnoea.


Types of sleep apnoea

There are three main types of sleep apnoea: obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA), central sleep apnea (CSA) and mixed sleep apnoea.

Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA)

Obstructive sleep apnoea is the most common type of sleep apnoea, making up 84% of sleep apnoea diagnoses. In most cases of obstructive sleep apnoea, air stops flowing to the lungs because of a blockage (or obstruction) in the upper airway – that is, in the nose or throat.

The upper airway could become blocked due to:

  • the muscles around your airway relaxing too much during sleep, which blocks sufficient air from getting through. This narrow airway causes a vibration in your throat, which creates the sound of snoring.
  • the weight of your neck narrowing the airway
  • inflamed tonsils, or other temporary reasons
  • structural reasons, like the shape of your nose, neck or jaw

Central sleep apnoea (CSA)

Central sleep apnoea is a less common type of sleep apnoea. In some cases, the airway is actually open but air stops flowing to the lungs because no effort is made to breathe. This is because the communication between the brain and the body has been affected so the automatic action of breathing stops. People with CSA don’t often snore, so the condition sometimes goes unnoticed.

Mixed sleep apnoea

This is a mixture of both OSA (where there is a blockage or obstruction in the upper airway) and CSA (where no effort is made to breathe). Your doctor can help you understand more about this if you need to.

If you have any concerns that you may have any type of sleep apnoea, please consult your doctor.

What happens if I don't get enough sleep?

If your body doesn’t get a chance to properly recharge (by cycling through the two phases of sleep, REM and NREM), you’re already starting the next day at a disadvantage.

You might find yourself:

If this happens day after day, night after night, you can imagine the strain it would place on your, body and overall health. Find out how we can help.

Sleep Apnoea NQ