What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a common, but serious condition that causes you to stop breathing during sleep.  Your airway repeatedly becomes blocked, limiting the amount of air that reaches your lungs.  When this happens you may snore loudly or make choking noises as you try to breathe.  Your brain and body does not get enough oxygen which causes you to wake up.  This may happen a few times a night, or in more severe cases, several hundred times a night.
In many cases this temporary pause in breathing is caused by the tissue in the back of the throat collapsing.  The muscles of the upper airway relax when you fall asleep.  If you sleep on your back, gravity can cause the tongue to fall back.  This reduces the amount of air that can reach your lungs and causes snoring.

OSA can make you wake up feeling tired or unrefreshed even though you have had a full night’s sleep.  During the day you may feel tired and have difficulty concentrating or you may even unintentionally fall asleep.  This is because you are waking up numerous times even though you might not be conscious of each awakening.