Mental Illness/ Psychological Disorders

Sleep Apnea

Sleep Apnea:
It is a common condition in which breathing stops and then returns several times during sleep. The person suffering from it may make periodic sounds during sleep (such as: panting or snoring). The person may also suffer from excessive sleepiness during the day, as sleep is intermittent and he may not feel recovered.


  • Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type: occurs when the upper airway becomes blocked several times during sleep; Which reduces airflow or stops it completely. Obesity, enlarged tonsils, or changes in hormone levels that cause airway narrowing can increase the risk of obstructive sleep apnea.
  • Central sleep apnea: occurs when the brain does not send the necessary signals to breathe. Health conditions affect how the brain controls the airway and chest muscles can cause central sleep apnea.


  • Snoring loudly frequently
  • Gasping for air during sleep
  • Sleepiness and fatigue during the day.
  • Breathing that starts and stops during sleep.
  • Low energy, difficulty concentrating, and poor memory.
  • Headache after waking up in the morning, dry mouth, or sore throat.
  • Impotence or decreased sexual desire
  • Waking up frequently during the night to urinate

Children with sleep apnea may be hyperactive and may experience bedwetting, worsening asthma, and difficulty paying attention at school.

Risk factors:

  • Gender: Sleep apnea is more common in men.
  • Getting older.
  • Endocrine disorders, or changes in hormone levels.
  • Family history and genetics.
  • Heart or kidney failure.
  • Large tonsils and thick neck.
  • Lifestyle habits (e.g.: smoking)
  • Obesity.
  • Health conditions (such as: heart failure, stroke, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and myasthenia).
  • Premature birth, as those born before the 37th week of pregnancy are more likely to develop breathing problems during sleep, and in most cases, the risk decreases as the child grows older.

Sleep apnea in children:
Although sleep apnea is most often associated with older adults, it can occur in children, and obstructive sleep apnea is more common. Symptoms may appear during the day (such as: irritable mood, lack of attention or concentration, or behavior problems) and symptoms during the night (such as night sweats, bedwetting, or sleepwalking). A child with untreated sleep apnea may have problems with growth and development.
For many children, obstructive sleep apnea is caused by enlarged tonsils and adenoids in the throat, and surgery is performed to remove them. Children born with medical conditions (such as Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, facial and cranial deformities) are at greater risk for sleep apnea. Children who are overweight are vulnerable to this.

Sleep apnea and pregnancy:
During pregnancy, changes in a woman's upper airway or in the way the brain controls breathing increase her risk of developing or worsening sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is often more serious in the last three months of pregnancy and may improve after childbirth.

Sleep apnea and cardiovascular disease:
Sleep apnea increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, and obstructive sleep apnea, in particular, has been linked to higher rates of high blood pressure, stroke, and coronary artery disease.

Treatment for sleep apnea depends on the cause, in the case of having  medical problems (such as congestive heart failure or nasal obstruction), sleep apnea may be resolved by treating these conditions, while making lifestyle changes. However, if these treatments do not work, the doctor may recommend some other treatment methods

Instructions for people with sleep apnea:

  • Try to lose weight when overweight.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Have good sleep habits (such as: making sure the bedroom is dark and quiet, and going to bed and waking up at the same time every day).
  • Sleep on one side, buy a special pillow, or place a pillow behind the back; to help stay on the side and not sleep on the back.
  • Quit Smoking.
  • Avoid taking sleeping pills unless recommended by a doctor, as they may worsen sleep apnea

Last Update : 05 December 2023 11:11 AM
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