What is sleep apnoea?
Not many people know about sleep apnoea, an illness that is all too often under-diagnosed, but which affects a large and increasing number of people. Depending on age, gender and calculation criteria, it is estimated that up to 26% of the population suffer from sleep apnoea.
The causes of sleep apnoea come from diverse origins. They can be categorised into two large families:
- Sleep apnoea with metabolic origins – also called ‘obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome’ (OSAS). This is an apnoea resulting from the effort of breathing to fight against an ‘obstruction’ of the upper airways (nose, mouth, pharynx, larynx).
- Sleep apnoea with neurological origins – called ‘central sleep apnoea syndrome’ (CSAS). This involves an abnormality in breathing control.
Sleep apnoea has a negative impact on the quality of sleep by reducing the length of deep and REM sleep with mini awakenings. It can be responsible for:
- Drowsiness: Sleep apnoea provokes periods of drowsiness during the day and can generate irritability, reduced sexual drive and sometimes a state of depression.
- Cardiovascular problems: Sleep apnoea can also be associated with high blood pressure and other cardiovascular problems because it reduces the partial pressure of oxygen in the blood.