Obstructive sleep apnea (apnea-hypopnea) is characterized by recurrent episodes of upper airway collapse and obstruction during sleep. These episodes of obstruction are associated with recurrent oxyhemoglobin desaturation and arousals from sleep. The term obstructive sleep apnia-hypopnea syndrome (OSAHS) is frequently used when the episodes are associated with excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS).

man with obstructive sleep apnea or OSA sleep disorder

Approximately 30 million Americans are victims of a sleep disorder called obstructive sleep apnea. Many millions more are at a high risk of developing the disorder. If you are an adult male, the odds are about 50% that your breathing is not normal during sleep.

Typically, the frequency of waking episodes is somewhere between 10 and 60 per night. However, a person with severe OSA may have more than 100 waking episodes in a single night. In my case, the night that I went for my sleep study, in one hour I had 62 of what they called episodes. This means that in that hour, I never went into a deep sleep. What happens when we do not go into a deep sleep is our organs do not get the rest they need. Organs like your kidneys need rest because, if they are not resting, it means that they are functioning at a high level for 24 hours a day and will eventually cause you problems.

What are the signs and symptoms?

  • Loud snoring
  • Dry mouth in the morning
  • Unrefreshing sleep and morning grogginess
  • Headaches on awakening
  • Night sweats
  • Indigestion during the night
  • Problems with memory and concentration
  • Increased need for urination at night
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Irritability and/or fatigue during the day
  • Depression
  • Decreased libido

These however are the symptoms that basically label you as having Obstructive Sleep Apnea:

  • Fatigue and tiredness during the day.
  • Loud snoring; if the loud snoring is repeatedly punctuated by brief periods of silence or choking sounds, the individual is certain to have obstructive sleep apnea.

How dangerous is OSA or Obstructive Sleep Apnia?

Like any other illness or disorder the level of danger depends on the degree of severity. Obstructive sleep apnea is a potentially life-threatening condition. Someone who has undiagnosed severe obstructive sleep apnea is likely to have a heart attack, a stroke, or cardiac arrest during sleep.

In addition, awakening to breathe hundreds of times in a single night causes the victim to become very sleep deprived. There is a constant risk of serious accidents such as falling asleep while driving as well as impaired function in the workplace and in personal relationships.

All of the negative consequences of OSA or obstructive sleep apnea increase as severity increases. Untreated OSA tends to progressively worsen and sooner or later will result in partial or complete disability and death. It took the death of a celebrity to show America that Sleep Apnea is not to be taken lightly.

On the morning of December 26, 2004, Reggie White former Green Bay Packer was rushed from his home in Cornelius, North Carolina, to a nearby hospital in Huntersville, North Carolina, where he was pronounced dead. White had suffered a fatal cardiac arrhythmia. The most likely cause of this, according to the Mecklenburg County Medical Examiner's Office, was the cardiac and pulmonary sarcoidosis that he had lived with for years. It was also stated that sleep apnea, which White was known to suffer from may have contributed to his death.

Here is a list of other celebrities who have or had Obstructive Sleep Apnea:

  • Johannes Brahms - great classical composer
  • William Howard Taft - 27th president of the United States
  • Jerry Garcia - the influential guitarist from the Grateful Dead
  • Anne Rice - famous for her Vampire Chronicles books
  • George Kennedy - Academy award winning actor
  • Billy Connolly - Actor
  • William Tarmey - English actor and singer
  • William Shatner - Actor most famous for playing captain Kirk
  • Johnny Grunge - Professional wrestler
  • Rosie O'Donnell - Actress, once had a talk show

Obstructive Sleep Apnea is usually diagnosed by having the patient take an overnight sleep study. During this study various parameters are monitored, including brain waves, eye movements, oxygen levels, heart rate, and breathing patterns. This data is then interpreted by the physician to make the diagnosis. The study is painless! Myself, I actually enjoyed my sleep study. I literally slept like a baby through it all. So don't believe all the people that say that this is a horrible experience, it can actually be quite enjoyable.

If after a sleep study you are found to have Sleep Apnea, you will be faced with the following options for treatments:

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)

  • CPAP is the standard treatment option for moderate to severe cases of OSA and a good option for mild sleep apnea.

Oral appliance

  • An oral appliance is an effective treatment option for people with mild to moderate OSA who either prefer it to CPAP or are unable to successfully comply with CPAP therapy.


  • Surgery is a treatment option for OSA when noninvasive treatments such as CPAP or oral appliances have been unsuccessful.

Surgery Options are:

  • Genioglossus Tongue Advancement
  • Hyoid Suspension
  • Somnoplasty (Radio frequency or RF procedure)
  • Maxillomandibular Advancement
  • Laser Assisted Uvuloplasty (LAUP)
  • Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP)
  • Tracheostomy

Behavioral changes

  • Weight loss benefits many people with sleep apnea, and changing from back-sleeping to side-sleeping may help those with mild cases of OSA.

Over-the-counter remedies

  • Although some external nasal dilator strips, internal nasal dilators, and lubricant sprays may reduce snoring, there is no evidence that they help treat OSA.

Position Therapy

  • A treatment used for patients suffering from mild obstructive sleep apnea. Patients are advised to stay off of the back while sleeping and raise the head of the bed to reduce symptoms.

Treatments for obstructive sleep apnea are constantly improving. At deprivation of sleep we will study all the current options and products in order to make sure our readers have the best and the latest information. We take sleep apnea and all sleep disorders seriously because we are sufferers also. The more we research the more we can help you and us.

deprivation of sleep | sleep apnea | what is sleep apnea | obstructive sleep apnea