12.07.2015
The term ‘sleep disordered breathing’ refers to a range of conditions that result in abnormal breathing during sleep. In some people, the tongue and the relaxed muscles in the throat can cause a narrowing of the airway, which restricts breathing and can stop it temporarily.
A detailed sleep study, called polysomnography, records brain waves, muscle activity, eye movements, heart activity, chest movement, airflow at the nose and mouth and blood oxygen level (oximetry).
If this happens, the brain causes brief partial awakening, which reopens the airway and restarts breathing.
Smoking and alcohol have both been linked with a higher prevalence of snoring and sleep apnoea.


This detailed study is carried out in in a sleep clinic but with most individuals with suspected OSAS, simpler investigations can be performed using portable equipment, often in the patient’s home. Although there are other types of apnoea, the term ‘sleep apnoea’ usually refers to obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome (OSAS) in which the individual is briefly unable to breathe due to temporary obstruction of the airway in the throat, called the pharynx.
Repeated awakenings in the night can seriously affect the quality of sleep, leading to excessive daytime sleepiness.In addition, each apnoea is accompanied by a surge in heart rate and blood pressure. The level of daytime sleepiness is assessed by a simple questionnaire called the Epworth Sleepiness Scale. The noise of snoring arises from vibration of the tissues in the throat, implying that the airway is potentially unstable and therefore more vulnerable to collapse during sleep.


Symptoms of sleep apnoea such as snoring and witnessed apnoeas are also likely to be reported by a bed partner.
This form of treatment involves a machine which generates a flow of air via a mask  over the nose (or nose and mouth) at a pressure which is adjusted to keep the throat open during the night.  For continuing benefit it needs to be used every night.



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