What is Sleep Apnoea?

Obstructive Sleep Apnoea - what you need to know

Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) is when apnoeas (breathing pauses) and hypopnoeas (breathing restrictions) repeatedly occur as your upper airway becomes obstructed. This is due to the relaxing of muscles and the subsequent collapse of the tissue surrounding the passageway. Generally preceded by snoring, these pauses and reductions in airflow are often followed by a gasping/choking sound as the brain reacts to the oxygen drop by momentarily waking you from your sleep. This can happen up to one hundred times every hour.

The whole process then repeats regularly as the person drifts off into a deeper sleep only to be aroused again soon after having another apnoea event. The individual is usually completely unaware of all this; rarely do they completely wake up but merely return to a lighter level of sleep. They then wake up still tired, having had little or no quality sleep.

Symptoms of Obstrucive Sleep Apnoea include:

Episodes of interrupted breathing are often visible in someone with obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) who is asleep. OSA can also cause other symptoms, often due to tiredness resulting from lack of deep sleep.

Most people with OSA snore loudly. Their breathing may be noisy and laboured, and it is often interrupted by gasping and snorting with each episode of apnoea.

If you have OSA, you may have no memory of your interrupted breathing during the night. However, when you wake up you are likely to feel as though you have not had a good night's sleep.

Other symptoms of OSA include:

Feeling very sleepy during the day
Waking up with a sore or dry throat
Poor memory and concentration
Headaches (particularly in the morning)
Irritability and a short temper
Lack of interest in sex
In men, impotence (inability to get or maintain an erection)

Some people with OSA may also wake up frequently during the night to urinate.

What to do if you think you may have Obstructive Sleep Apnoea

1) NHS - lower costs, slower speeds

To find out if you are eligible for CPAP through the NHS, you will need a referral to a sleep clinic from your GP. From there, many parts of the UK have a waiting list of around 10 weeks to undergo a sleep study, then some additional time to get the results.

2) Private - higher cost, faster service, greater choice and convenience.

If you want to have OSA confirmed promptly, and therefore begin treatment as soon as possible, then we recommend considering an in-home sleep test.