Sleep apnea is a common disorder that causes your breathing to stop or get very shallow. Breathing pauses can last from a few seconds to minutes. They may occur 30 times or more an hour.
The most common type is obstructive sleep apnea. It causes your airway to collapse or become blocked during sleep. Normal breathing starts again with a snort or choking sound. People with sleep apnea often snore loudly. However, not everyone who snores has sleep apnea.
You are more at risk for sleep apnea if you are overweight, male, or have a family history or small airways. Children with enlarged tonsils may also get it.
Doctors diagnose sleep apnea based on medical and family histories, a physical exam, and sleep study results.
When your sleep is interrupted throughout the night, you can be drowsy during the day. People with sleep apnea are at higher risk for car crashes, work-related accidents, and other medical problems. If you have it, it is important to get treatment. Lifestyle changes, mouthpieces, surgery, and breathing devices can treat sleep apnea in many people.
NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
- Sleep Apnea (American Academy of Family Physicians) Available in Spanish
- Sleep Apnea (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)
- Sleep Apnea (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute) Available in Spanish
- Sleep Apnea (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke) - Short Summary Available in Spanish
- Sleep Apnea in Adults (Beyond the Basics) (UpToDate)
- Treating Sleep Apnea: A Review of the Research for Adults (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality) Available in Spanish
- Sleep Problems May Contribute to Health Disparities in America (06/25/2015, HealthDay)
Treatments and Therapies
- Always Tired? You May Have Sleep Apnea (Food and Drug Administration) Available in Spanish
- CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)
- CPAP Devices for Sleep Apnea (American Academy of Family Physicians)
- How Is Sleep Apnea Treated? (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)
- Oral Appliance Therapy for Obstructive Sleep Apnea (American College of Chest Physicians) - PDF
- CPAP Machines: Tips for Avoiding 10 Common Problems (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)
- CPAP Use in a Hospital or Surgical Setting (American Sleep Apnea Association) - PDF
- JAMA Patient Page: Traveling to High Altitude When You Have Sleep Apnea (American Medical Association) - PDF Available in Spanish
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea (American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons)
- Sleep Apnea and Heart Disease, Stroke (American Heart Association)
- What Can You Do About Sleep Apnea? (National Institute on Aging)
Statistics and Research
- Sleep Apnea Facts (American Association for Respiratory Care)
- Study Finds a Connection between Glaucoma and Sleep Apnea (American Academy of Ophthalmology)
- ClinicalTrials.gov: Sleep Apnea Syndromes (National Institutes of Health)
Journal ArticlesReferences and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)
Find an Expert
- American Sleep Apnea Association
- Find a Sleep Center Near You (American Academy of Sleep Medicine)
- National Center on Sleep Disorders Research
- National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke Available in Spanish
- Apnea of Prematurity (For Parents) (Nemours Foundation) Available in Spanish
- Pediatric Obesity and Ear, Nose, and Throat Disorders (American Academy of Otolaryngology--Head and Neck Surgery)
- Sleep Apnea (For Parents) (Nemours Foundation)
- Sleep Apnea Detection (American Academy of Pediatrics) Available in Spanish