Sleep is an integral part of a healthy life, so seek care for any changes that disrupt your ability to get adequate rest on a routine basis.
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by interruptions in breathing that occur throughout the night. Some men and women with sleep apnea stop breathing hundreds of times each night. That not only disrupts your rest, it can also deprive your brain of oxygen.
Most cases of sleep apnea occur when the muscles located in the back of your throat relax as you sleep. That causes your airway to narrow, making your body work harder to get enough air to your lungs and into your blood. When your brain senses a breathing problem, it fires an alert. That response happens very quickly, but it is enough to disrupt your sleep many times each night.
Left untreated, sleep apnea increases your risk of diabetes, depression, heart disease, hypertension, and stroke. Unfortunately, many people live with sleep apnea for many years before they receive an accurate diagnosis.