Why you could die as you sleep

sleep apnea

Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts. You may have sleep apnea if you snore loudly, and you feel tired even after a full night’s sleep.

This means the brain and the rest of the body may not get enough oxygen.

Types of sleep apnea

  1. Obstructive
  2. Central
  3. Complex


  • Loud snoring, which is usually more prominent in obstructive sleep apnea
  • Episodes of breathing cessation during sleep witnessed by another person
  • Awakening with a dry mouth or sore throat
  • Morning headache
  • Difficulty staying asleep (insomnia)
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness (hypersomnia)
  • Attention problems
  • Irritability

Risk factors

1. Excess weight

People who are obese have four times the risk of sleep apnea that people who are a normal weight people do. Fat deposits around your upper airway may obstruct your breathing. However, not everyone who has sleep apnea is overweight.

2. Neck circumference

People with thicker necks may have narrower airways. For men, the risk increases if neck circumference is 17 inches (43 centimeters) and larger.

In women, the risk increases if neck circumference is 15 inches (38 centimeters) or more.

3. Narrowed airway

You may have inherited a naturally narrow throat or your tonsils or adenoids may become enlarged and block the airway, particularly in children

4. Being male

Men are twice as likely to have sleep apnea. However, women increase their risk if they’re overweight, and their risk also appears to rise after menopause.

5. Family history

If you have family members with sleep apnea, you may be at increased risk. It occurs significantly more often in older adults.

6. Substance use or abuse

Use of alcohol, sedatives or tranquilizers relax the muscles in your throat which can lead to a  blockage in your airways.

Also, using narcotic pain medications  especially long-acting ones such as methadone, increase the risk of central sleep apnea.

7. Smoking

Smokers are three times more likely to have obstructive sleep apnea than are people who’ve never smoked. Smoking may increase the amount of inflammation and fluid retention in the upper airway. This risk may likely drop after you quit smoking.

8. Nasal congestion

If you have difficulty breathing through your nose — whether it’s from an anatomical problem or allergies — you’re more likely to develop obstructive sleep apnea.

9. Heart disorders

People with congestive heart failure are more at risk of central sleep apnea.

10. Stroke

People who’ve had a stroke are more at risk of central sleep apnea or treatment-emergent central sleep apnea.


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