Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep disorder in which breathing is briefly and repeatedly interrupted during sleep. The “apnea” in sleep apnea refers to a breathing pause that lasts at least ten seconds. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the muscles in the back of the throat fail to keep the airway open, despite efforts to breathe. Another form of sleep apnea is central sleep apnea, in which the brain fails to control breathing during sleep adequately. Obstructive sleep apnea is far more common than central sleep apnea.
Obstructive sleep apnea, or “sleep apnea,” can cause fragmented sleep and low blood oxygen levels. For people with sleep apnea, the combination of disturbed sleep and oxygen starvation may lead to hypertension, heart disease and mood and memory problems. Sleep apnea also increases the risk of drowsy driving.
If you have sleep apnea and cannot tolerate a CPAP, perhaps you snore, if your bed partner complains about your snoring or is concerned, then a simple appliance worn like a retainer may be right for you.