This article is reviewed, corrected, and approved by: Dr. Joshua Collins M.D. | MRCP। FRCP

Sleep apnea is a severe respiratory issue where you can’t breathe properly while sleeping. It can happen to anyone irrespective of women, men and children. It is a stage in your Sleep where you experience stop breathing repeatedly. If you are making loud snoring sounds in your Sleep and feel tired, like you pass sleepless nights even if you actually get enough sleep, you may suffer from sleep apnea.

If you don't treat this sleep disorder or just take sleep medicine, then it can lead you to type 2 diabetes and heart disease, and lung disease too. Also, strokes and heart attacks may be augmented.

Once, I experienced Sleep Apnea a few months back. However, i didn't know what was actually happening to me. I immediately contacted a sleep disorders institute, and the sleep specialist helped me understand what sleep apnea is and what are the potential symptoms and reasons behind sleep apnea.

Only then I learned how can sleep Apnea kill you. Today I am going to write all the basic information about sleep apnea that I have gathered through my experience and treatment.

Apnea Types

A person sleeping with mouth wide open due to sleep apnea. Credit- ReviewsFellas© 

Sleep apnea primarily consists of three types. In below I will discuss these three types.

The Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) syndrome

Sleep Apnea's primary format. A narrow airway is created when the throat muscles relax. It means the lungs don't get the air properly. In Obstructive sleep apnea, the breathing gets paused and starts in a periodic manner which the person is sleeping doesn't get to know.

Low-oxygen areas of the lungs constrict to redirect blood flow to more oxygen-rich areas.

Apnea Centralize - CSA

During sudden cardiac death, the brain cannot send signals around the body that control breathing. As a result, breathing may pause or become shallower, which causes heart failure and oxygen levels to fall.

It is a rare type of apnea. People may wake up due to a shortage of breathing, and as a result, they experience sleepless nights for days. Blood pressure can rise suddenly when oxygen levels drop, straining the cardiovascular system. A rise in blood pressure stresses the cardiovascular system.

Apnea Due to Treatment-Emergent Causes

It is known as complex sleep apnea when people with Obstructive Sleep Apnea get the therapy to convert to Central Apnea.

Sleep reduces muscle tone, so your tongue, soft palate, or tonsils can fall back into your airway, or fatty tissues in your neck can apply pressure.
If you have heart or lung disease, with each apnea event, the oxygen levels may drop drastically. It is the morning when REM sleep happens repeatedly. And you can experience more apnea at that time.

Treatment-emergent Sleep Apnea

It is known as complex sleep apnea when people with Obstructive Sleep Apnea get the therapy to convert to Central Apnea. Muscle tone decreases with Sleep, so the blockage often comes from your tongue, soft palate, or tonsils falling back into your airway or fatty tissues in your neck applying pressure to your airway.

Sleep apnea is classified into the following categories based on the apnea-hypopnea index (AHI): 6 Mild, 5-14 events per hour Moderate and 15-30 events per hour Severe.

If you have heart or lung disease, with each apnea event, the oxygen levels may drop drastically. These events seem to increase in the morning, which is incidentally when REM sleep occurs more and when more sleep apnea events can occur.

Sleep Apnea Symptoms

The sleep apnea symptoms are confusing. Sometimes only by observing the symptoms, it is hard to determine the types of Sleep Apnea. Below, I mention only the complex sleep apnea syndrome, which is relevant to both OCA and CSA.

  • Loud snoring sounds.
  • Sleeping without breathing repeatedly.
  • Insomnia or problem in sleeping or passing sleepless nights.
  • During sleep, you gasp for air.
  • Morning head pain.
  • A sudden dry mouth wakes you up.
  • Insomnia or Difficulty staying asleep.
  • Sleepiness during the day.
  • Inability to pay attention or lose focus.
  • Irritation.
  • Sleep deprivation causes fatigue during the day
  • Abnormal breathing patterns.
  • Sudden shortness of breath or sweating, or chest pains at night while sleeping.

Apnea - Causes and Consequences

Sleep apnea causes may vary depending on the type.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea Causes

The main cause of OSA is muscles relaxing during Sleep. Relaxed throat muscles caused it.

Inhalation narrows or closes the airway. Due to the lack of enough oxygen deprivation in the air, the oxygen level gets lower in your blood.

As you can't breathe and wake up, you can reopen your airway.

You might snore loudly, cough, or gasp. Each hour, this cycle repeats five to thirty times. That's why you feel tired during the daytime, and rem daytime sleepiness occurs as you actually don't get deep Sleep or a good night's Sleep.

The causes of central sleep apnea

When you sleep, your brain does not send signals to your breathing muscles. During restful sleep, you fail to breathe. Shortness of breath or sleep difficulties can wake you up.

Factors associated with sleep apnea

Common health risk aspects that raise the sleep disorder risk include:

Sudden weight gain or excess weight

A man measuring his weight. Credit- ReviewsFellas© 

Severe obesity significantly raises the chance of OSA. Fat residues in your upper respiratory tract or nostril can obstruct your breathing. In many ways, weight gain has more health risks than others.

Airway narrowing

Your throat might be narrow if you inherit it. When children have tonsils or adenoids, they can enlarge and obstruct their airways.

Sex Difference

Men have a higher likelihood of experiencing apnea compared to women. Women who are overweight or menopausal are at greater risk.

Getting older

A higher percentage of older people suffer from sleep apnea.

A brief history of the family

Some people ask, is sleep apnea genetic? When there are other apnea sufferers in the family, the issue has a greater chance to develop.

A sedative, tranquilizer, or alcohol

Intoxication can relax the throat muscles, causing Apnea to worsen.

Congestion in the nose

A woman suffering from nasal congestion. Credit- ReviewsFellas© 

Anatomical problems or allergic reactions may cause breathing problems through the nose.


The risk of apnea may be raised by having a diagnosis of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, a history of stroke, chronic lung illnesses, Asthma, and type 2 diabetes.

Sleep Apnea Complications

A fatigued woman keeping heads on table infront of a laptop. Credit- ReviewsFellas© 

A serious medical condition, severe sleep apnea can lead to death as well as series of complications can happen to you.

  • Feeling dull and tired all the day.
  • Concentration and focus may be difficult.
  • Problems with high blood pressure.
  • Due to repeated awakenings, you become drowsy, fatigued, and irritable during the day.
  • A sudden drop in blood oxygen levels may weaken cardiovascular health.
  • Sleep apnea can increase the chance of Diabetes specially type 2..
  • Increased waist circumference, hypertension, and abnormal cholesterol levels are all elements of hyperlipidemia.
  • Surgery and medical complications.
  • Anesthesia and certain medicines can also cause apnea. Major surgery can be more complicated for people who suffer from Apnea.
  • A loud snoring sound can be very disturbing for your partner who sleeps next to you. Therefore, they also develop insomnia or pass sleepless nights.

Can Sleep Apnea Kill You?

Yes, it can cause a number of immediate and long-term health effects, some of which can be life-threatening.

You won't just stop breathing in Apnea, and breath pauses won't cause death directly. If you have sleep apnea doesn’t mean it will kill you. But there is a chance as it isn’t a common occurrence. So don’t get worried.

Sleep Disorder Statistics

Some statistics may give us an actual scenario of the sleep disorder ratio among the people of the USA.

Sleep Disorder

Age Wise

Short sleep duration

37% of adults between 20 and 39 

Seep problem

50% of kids


1% and 5% of children

Poor sleep quality

60% of college students

Chronic sleep problems

40% and 70% of older adults 


9% and 21% of Adult women


24% and 31% of men


57% of men


40% of women

Chronic Sleep problem

70 million Americans

Insufficient sleep

30% of the general population 


20% of the general population

How Is Sleep Apnea Diagnosed?

A physician or sleep specialist can diagnose an apnea event.

Health History and Physical Exam

Diagnosis of Apnea starts with a review of a person's symptoms and a physical exam. As per professional medical advice, testing is required to confirm that someone has OSA.

Sleep Study

This process is necessary to diagnose obstructive or central Apnea. Polysomnography is the most dependable kind of sleep study. This study will be performed in a sleep laboratory. For this, you might need to stay there for a night.

In addition to tracking breathing, awakenings, oxygen levels, muscle movements, and sleep stages, multiple sensors are used to monitor sleeping patterns.

Sleep analysis in a clinic can distinguish obstructive from central apnea.


The American Sleep Apnea Association (ASAA) evaluates that around 22 million people suffer from sleep disorders. However, around 90% of people with this sleep disorder don't even know that they are suffering from this condition.

A sleep disorder could have significant health consequences if it exisits for years and years to come.

Untreated sleep apnea creates chronic oxygen deprivation that can be responsible for heart disease, heart attack, and cardiac arrhythmia. Even you may have sudden cardiac related death. Sleep disordered breathing is not something that can be left untreated or ignored.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Question 1: Can a CPAP Machine be used to treat Sleep Apnea?

Answer 1: CPAP is the most effective treatment for Apnea. Healthcare providers and sleep experts in most apnea cases often recommend it.

Question 2: Is sleep apnea genetic?

Answer 2:  Yes, if your family member has sleep apnea, then there is a chance that you also might get this condition by born.

The risk of developing this sleep disorder is about 50 percent higher and more prominent for first-degree relatives.

Question 3- What is no snoring sleep apnea?

Answer 3: In most central apnea cases, there would be no snoring. You can snore loudly and can not develop Apnea. Sometimes you may have apnea symptoms without snoring.

Question 4: What are the signs you may die in your Sleep?

Answer 4: Some common signs are,

  • Abnormal breathing
  • Longer space between breaths,
  • Noisy breathing.
  • Glassy eyes.
  • Weak pulse.

Question 5: Can I Treat Sleep Apnea Myself?

Answer 5: A professional sleep expert can diagnose and treat your sleep apnea. As they have training in sleep disorders. If you have sleep apnea, try to lose weight and quit smoking.  A positive shuffle in your lifestyle will help you to prevent sleep apnea.