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What are sleep related breathing disorders?
Sleep related breathing disorders are a group of disorders that affect our breathing while we are asleep, and are characterized by disruptions of normal breathing patterns that only occur during sleep. Therefore, the person with the disorder may be the last to know he or she has a problem. Sleep related breathing disorders constitute a subset of the broad group of sleep disorders that include many other disorders such as insomnia (difficulty sleeping), hypersomnias (inappropriately falling asleep, for example, narcolepsy), parasomnias (activities during sleep, for example, sleepwalking and sleep terrors), and sleep related movement disorders (for example, restless leg syndrome). The most common sleep related breathing disorders are snoring and sleep apnea.
Why do we sleep?
This is a complex topic that we only partially understand. Mammals, reptiles, birds, and even fruit flies have been observed sleeping. A manatee can sleep with one side of its brain while the other side is awake and alert. Sleeping in this way avoids a long period of unconsciousness, during which it would be very vulnerable. Humans typically need 7-8 hours of sleep every night, but individuals vary in their need for sleep. Sleep should be restorative and is necessary to maintain health. During sleep, we rest and repair our muscles and organize our thoughts and memories. Therefore, if we become sleep deprived, we feel both physically fatigued and mentally exhausted. Many studies show that sleep deprivation causes a decrease in problem solving ability, attention, and manual reflex times.
What are the stages of sleep?
Sleep stages can be measured by monitoring the electrical impulses within the brain, often termed brain waves. These electrical impulses, or brain waves can be monitored with an electroencephalogram (EEG). Sleep can be broken up into three stages and REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. Stage 1 sleep is the most superficial and stage 4 is the deepest. Stage 1 and 2 sleep are both considered to be light sleep, while stage 3 sleep is deeper, more restorative sleep. This stage is important for the body to feel well. REM sleep is the sleep stage in which we typically dream. During REM, the brain sends signals to the muscles to relax, so we do not "act out" our dreams. The relaxation of muscles in REM sleep can sometimes worsen sleep related breathing disorders like snoring and sleep apnea. We typically spend about 50% of our sleep in stages 1 and 2, 25% in stages 3, and 25% in REM sleep.
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Tonsillitis (Adenoiditis)Tonsillitis is a contagious infection with symptoms of bad breath, snoring, congestion, headache, hoarseness, laryngitis, and coughing up blood. Tonsillitis can be caused acute infection of the tonsils, and several types of bacteria or viruses (for example, strep throat or mononucleosis). There are two types of tonsillitis, acute and chronic.
Acute tonsillitis lasts from one to two weeks while chronic tonsillitis can last from months to years. Treatment of tonsillitis and adenoids include antibiotics, over-the-counter medications, and home remedies to relieve pain and inflammation, for example, salt water gargle, slippery elm throat lozenges, sipping warm beverages and eating frozen foods (ice cream, popsicles), serrapeptase, papain, and andrographism Some people with chronic tonsillitis may need surgery (tonsillectomy or adenoidectomy).
Airway PictureThe path air follows to get into and out of the lungs. See a picture of Airway and learn more about the health topic.
Deviated SeptumA deviate septum is a condition that may require surgery. With a deviated septum, the bone and cartilage that divide the nasal cavity of the nose in half (nasal septum) is significantly off-center or crooked. The causes of a deviated septum can be congenital, or develop after a trauma or injury to the nose. Symptoms of a deviated septum include:
- nasal congestion,
- recurrent sinus infections,
- facial pain,
- postnasal drip,
- and loud breathing.
Hypoxia is a condition in which the normal concentration of oxygen in the blood is not enough for normal life functions. Symptoms of hypoxia and/or hypoxemia may be acute such as fast heart rate, rapid breathing, and shortness of breath; or severe symptoms include confusion, the inability to communicate, coma, and sometimes death. Treatment of hypoxia and/or hypoxemia is to provide supplemental oxygen to the body as soon as possible.
IBS Triggers (Prevention)Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a functional disease that can affect the quality of those who suffer from this condition. People with IBS can make lifestyle changes that may modify or control the number and severity of episodes. Certain foods, medications, and hormone levels may trigger IBS episodes, for example fatty foods, dairy products, eating foods in large quantities, foods that contain high levels of sorbitol, foods that produce intestinal gas (broccoli, onions, cabbage, and beans), chocolate, caffeine, physiological stress, some antibiotics, some antidepressants, medicine with sorbitol, and menstrual pain. Exercise, diet, and other lifestyle changes can decrease IBS flares, and prevent the number and severity of IBS episodes of diarrhea and constipation.
Pulmonary HypertensionPulmonary hypertension is elevated pressure in the pulmonary arteries that carry blood from the lungs to the heart. The most common symptoms are fatigue and difficulty breathing. If the condition goes undiagnosed, more severe symptoms may occur. As pulmonary hypertension worsens, some people with the condition have difficulty performing any activities that require physical exertion. While there is no cure for pulmonary hypertension, it can be managed and treated with medications and supplemental oxygen to increase blood oxygen levels.
Sleep apnea is defined as a reduction or cessation of breathing during sleep. The three types of sleep apnea are central apnea, obstructive apnea (OSA), and a mixture of central and obstructive apnea. Central sleep apnea is caused by a failure of the brain to activate the muscles of breathing during sleep. OSA is caused by the collapse of the airway during sleep. OSA is diagnosed and evaluated through patient history, physical examination and polysomnography. There are many complications related to obstructive sleep apnea. Treatments are surgical and non-surgical.
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How to Stop Snoring
Snoring, like all other sounds, is caused by vibrations that cause particles in the air to form sound waves. While we are asleep, turbulent air flow can cause the tissues of the nose and throat to vibrate and give rise to snoring. Any person can snore. Snoring is believed to occur in anywhere from 30% of women to over 45% of men. People who snore can have any body type. In general, as people get older and as they gain weight, snoring will worsen. Snoring can be caused by a number of things, including the sleep position, alcohol, medication, anatomical structure of the mouth and throat, stage of sleep, and mouth breathing.
SomnoplastySomnoplasty is a procedure that reduces snoring by removing tissues of the uvula and soft palate. Complications include:
- prolonged pain,
- impaired hearing,
- nasal regurgitation,
- failure to cure sleep apnea, and
- failure to eliminate snoring.
What Does a Narcoleptic Attack Feel Like?With narcolepsy, you may experience attacks in which you can fall asleep in the middle of any activity. These attacks are known as “narcoleptic sleep attacks.” In between sleep attacks, you have normal levels of alertness, particularly if you are doing activities that keep you alert.
What Is a Laryngeal Mask Airway (LMA) Used For?A laryngeal mask airway (LMA) is a device inserted into the area behind the mouth and nose, connecting them to the food pipe (the pharynx) to allow ventilation, oxygenation, and administration of anesthetic gases, without the need for inserting a tube in the windpipe (endotracheal intubation). It was initially used mainly in an operating room setting, but is also used in the emergency setting. Complications include aspiration of stomach contents, local irritation, upper airway injuries, mild sympathetic response, obstruction, laryngospasm, pulmonary edema, and bronchoconstriction.