Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea occurs when you stop breathing for short periods during sleep. The reduced airflow can result in poor sleep and daytime tiredness.

The oxygen levels in your blood may decrease and carbon monoxide levels go up. Sleep apnea can lead to other problems such as high blood pressure and heart disease.

Sleep apnea can range from mild to severe, depending on how often you stop breathing. There are two types of sleep apnea: obstructive sleep apnea which is the most common and happens when your airways are blocked or partially blocked, and central sleep apnea when the brain has trouble controlling breathing.


The main symptoms include feeling extremely tired during the day, not feeling rested after a night’s sleep or waking with a headache.

Your partner may notice that you stop breathing during sleep, snore, gasp or choke.

Screening & Diagnosing Sleep Apnea

Your doctor will first examine you and ask about your past health history. Your doctor may ask you or your partner about your snoring.

You will most likely be referred for a sleep study. Your doctor may order other tests to find out the cause of sleep apnea.

Treating Sleep Apnea

Sometimes lifestyle choices such as losing weight can help sleep apnea. Sleeping on your side, avoiding alcohol and sedative medicines before bed can also help.

Sleep apnea is often treated with a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine or other machine that prevents your airways from closing during sleep. Oral or nasal breathing devices may also help.

Ayer Neuroscience Institute Sleep Care Center