Disturbed breathing during sleep may indicate you suffer from this condition. Breathing can falter or even stop. We call such a falter an apnea. If apneas occur regularly during sleep, there is sleep apnea.
There are two types:
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA or OSAS)
With Obstructive Sleep Apnea, the airways are temporarily blocked by the tongue, the tonsils, the soft palate or the larynx. Because no breath can be taken, an alarm signal goes to the brain. The brain is alerted by this signal, so that the airways are unblocked and breathing continues. Then the brain comes to rest again. The person who sleeps does not realize all this, but if the brain receives an alarm signal several times a night, this certainly causes a strongly disturbed sleep.
Central Sleep Apnea (CSA)
Central Sleep Apnea is less common. CSA occurs when the respiratory muscles do not receive a signal from the brain to move. There is no blockage of the airway, but there is no breathing. There is therefore apnea and, as with OSA, this leads to a strongly disturbed sleep.
CSA often occurs in syndromes such as heart failure, cerebral infarction, neurological muscle diseases or when using narcotic drugs. But it also occurs in ‘just’ healthy people, and then we see it mainly in children or older people.