Types of Sleep Apnea

Snoring man and young woman. Couple sleeping in bed.

Sleep apnea is a well-known condition with well-known symptoms. However, causes and treatments can cover a wide range of information. For starters, you should familiarize yourself with the three main types of sleep apnea.

Obstructive sleep apnea

This is the most common apnea, and afflicts approximately 4 percent of men and 2 percent of women. It is caused by partial or complete blockage of the airway during sleep. This reduces blood flow to the brain, which then wakes the body up in a kind of panic. Even if you do not wake fully, a sleep disturbance is registered. These tend to add up, sometimes occurring hundreds of times per night.

Central sleep apnea

Whereas obstructive sleep apnea is body-based, this particular sleep dysfunction is more brain-based. It has been linked to Parkinson’s and other diseases of the brainstem. Here, the sleep disturbance is caused by tiny, but consistent, cognitive short-circuits, which keep the brain from signaling the muscles that control airflow.

Mixed sleep apnea

Obviously, this is a combination of obstructive and central sleep apneas. A number of obstructive sleep apnea patients, after being treated with CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machinery, tend to oddly develop symptoms of central sleep apnea. This is usually managed by adjusting settings on the CPAP machine to ensure the patient gets the lowest velocity of airflow.

Types of Sleep Apnea

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