What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder. People who have sleep apnea stop breathing for 10 seconds to 30 seconds at a time while they are sleeping. These short stops in breathing can happen up to 400 times every night. If you have sleep apnea, periods of not breathing can disturb your sleep (even if they don't fully wake you up).
Is sleep apnea common?
It is estimated that more than 12 million Americans have sleep apnea. Men, people who are overweight, and people who are older than 40 years of age are more likely to have sleep apnea. However, it can affect anyone at any age. If you are interested in meeting other people who have sleep apnea, you can visit the American Sleep Apnea Association's website to find the location of a support group near you.
Will this problem change my life?
Actually, sleep apnea may already have affected you more than you know. Chances are things will improve for you once the diagnosis is made and you start treatment. Whatever your treatment, remember that you are not alone and help is available.
Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff