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If you or someone else notices you that you stop and start breathing while sleeping, you may have sleep apnea. Other signs include excessive daytime sleepiness, poor concentration and early morning headaches.
Obstructive sleep apnea - occurs when the throat muscles and tongue relax during sleep. This can block the opening of your airway, causing breathing to become difficult or to stop altogether. When the brain senses you aren't getting enough oxygen, it briefly wakes you to resume breathing. This cycle can repeat itself as many as 20 or 30 times an hour. For most people with obstructive sleep apnea, each awakening is so brief it goes unnoticed. Although unaware of sleep interruption, this condition prevents a deep, restful sleep.
Central sleep apnea - is much less common than obstructive sleep apnea. This condition occurs when the brain fails to send the proper signals to the muscles that control breathing. Unlike the obstructive type, which is intermittent, central sleep apnea is a constant problem and is frequently present from birth. Most people with central sleep apnea require assisted ventilation during sleep.
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