Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is characterized by multiple episodes of breathing pauses greater than 10 seconds at a time, due to the same phenomenon as snoring: upper airway narrowing or collapse.
Apnea patients may experience hundreds of these events per night. This results in lower amounts of oxygen in the blood, which causes the heart to work harder. Sleep apnea also increases the risk of developing heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, and many other medical problems. OSA causes disruption of the natural sleep cycle (the snorer must sleep lightly and keep the throat muscles tense in order to keep airflow to the lungs), which makes people feel poorly rested despite adequate time in bed. This has a significant effect on job performance and daytime quality of life measures.
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