What is the cycle of obstructive sleep apnea?

Posted Apr 5th, 2019 in General

What is the cycle of obstructive sleep apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) causes the sufferer to experience disruptions in breathing while sleeping. Here’s a little about how the obstructive sleep apnea cycle works.


Whether you’re awake or asleep, when you breathe, air travels down your throat, through your windpipe and into your lungs. The back of the throat is the narrowest part of that pathway.

While you're awake, muscles keep this pathway open. When you’re sleeping, those muscles relax, and that opening narrows. The air passing through this narrowed opening can cause the throat to vibrate. This vibration caused by the narrowing is snoring, which many people experience.

In people who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) the pathway narrows too much, and not enough air can get through to the lungs. That's when the brain sounds the alarm to get the airway open, and the person wakes up briefly. Once the person is awake the brain reactivates the muscles that hold the airway open, air can travel through freely again, and the brain goes back to sleep.

When this process is repeated frequently throughout the night, as it is with people suffering from OSA, it can result in a lot of interrupted sleep as well as a lack of oxygen flow. These issues can result in a variety of physical and mental health problems.

Does this sound like you? You may be suffering from obstructive sleep apnea. Contact our Surrey dentists today to book a consultation.

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