The Sleep Apnea information provided here is a general overview of this condition. Of the types of sleep apnea conditions Obstructive Sleep Apnea syndrome is by far and away the most common. When we transition from an awake to a sleeping state, our breathing goes from being voluntary to involuntary.
Sleep breathing then becomes regulated by our sleeping brain based on oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in our bloodstream. In addition, the muscles of the throat relax as does the tongue.
The end result in Obstructive Sleep Apnea syndrome is that these tissues block the airway. The reduced airflow then causes either a lower oxygen level or higher carbon dioxide level, and it stimulates our brain to arouse. Once this happens, we stir in our sleep, open up our airway briefly, and then fall back asleep. Then the whole Obstructive Sleep Apnea process starts all over again.
Men have higher rates for Obstructive Sleep Apnea syndrome because testosterone actually stimulates weight gain and fat deposits more around the male throat and neck tissues.
While Central Sleep Apnea syndrome is felt to be a “central” disorder where the brain does not tell the chest muscles to breathe, most of the time this is not the main cause.