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What is (sleep) apnea?

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder

People who suffer from sleep apnea have periods of respiratory arrest during sleep. Everyone sometimes has sleep apneas in his sleep, but one speaks of a slaapapneusyndroom (SAS) when it occurs more often than 5 times per hour. The brain gives a signal to wake up (often with a shock) and then the breathing continues again.

There are two types of apnea:

  1. Muscles that relax, causing the tongue in the throat to block breathing: Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (EPHRIM)
  2. Brains that give too few respiratory stimuli: Center sleep apnea syndrome (CSAS)

The estimation is that in the Netherlands some 50,000 people suffer from sleep apnea, less than half of which is under treatment. It is assumed that apnea is hereditary, but this does not mean that you already have it as a child, often it is only later in life (assumption is that this is due to overweight and muscle sagging).

If you have respiratory arrests, you don't want to immediately say that you are suffering from sleep apnea, often you will also suffer from:

  • Morning headache (due to lack of oxygen during REM sleep
  • Hard snoring (from the level that the neighbors can hear
  • Dry mouth (by breathing through the mouth)
  • Stifling feeling (coming up gastric acid)
  • Frequent urination at night (your body remains active, so urine production does not decrease)
  • Irregular heartbeat (lack of oxygen)
  • Daytime sleepiness (by the rest not getting overnight)
  • Night sweats (especially around shoulders and neck)

More information on the website of the Apnea Association.

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