Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) occurs when the muscles in the back of your throat relax. These muscles support the tongue, tonsils, soft palate and the triangular piece of tissue hanging from the soft palate (uvula).
When you sleep the muscles relax, your airway narrows or closes as you breathe in and airflow is decreased or cut off. This may decrease the level of oxygen in your blood.
Your brain senses this low oxygen level and briefly arouses you form sleep so that you can reopen your airway. Most of the time this arousal is so brief you don’t remember it.
You can awaken with a brief period of shortness of breath that corrects itself quickly or with one or two deep breaths. You may make a choking, gasping or snorting sound.
This pattern can repeat 20 to 40 times or more each hour, all night long. This pattern will impair your ability to reach an important phase of restful deep sleep. You will probably feel not feel sleepy during the time you are awake.
Many people with Obstructive Sleep Apnea may not be aware that their sleep is disrupted. People with this disorder often have loud snoring. However, not everyone who snores has Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Some people with sleep apnea don’t know they snore.