Sleep apnea causes you to pause in your breathing during sleep. It’s common for these pauses to occur 5 to 30 times per hour. Generally, when you resume breathing after the pause, normal breathing starts again, often with a loud snort or choking sound. Sleep apnea is exhausting because the frequent pauses in breathing prevent you from getting restful sleep. 

Untreated sleep apnea can:

  • Increase the risk for high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, obesity and diabetes
  • Increase the risk for or worsen heart failure
  • Make irregular heartbeats more likely
  • Increase the chance of having work-related or driving accidents


If you have sleep apnea, your doctor may recommend one or more of the following:

  • Lifestyle changes that often help keep your airways open when you sleep, such as losing some weight, sleeping on your side, avoiding alcohol and quitting smoking.
  • Custom-fit mouthpiece that adjusts your lower jaw and tongue.
  • Breathing devices such as Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machines, the most common treatment for moderate to severe sleep apnea in adults. A CPAP machine uses a mask that fits over your mouth and nose, or just over your nose. The machine gently blows air into your throat.