Central Sleep Apnea: Causes and Resulting Symptoms

Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder that affects millions of people world wide. The most common form is obstructive sleep apnea, caused by a blockage or obstruction of a person’s airway during sleep. This form of apnea is due to the body’s inability to get enough air despite increased amounts of effort that eventually lead to poor sleep quality. The rarer form of this disorder is central sleep apnea. Where obstructive deals largely with the physical construction or condition of a person’s airway, central sleep apnea is caused by nervous or respiratory system problems.

Central sleep apnea is most often seen in patients that suffer from some kind of injury to the brain stem or spinal cord. These parts of the body are essential for transmitting messages to and from the brain. Cases of sleep apnea occur when a person’s breathing ceases because a signal was missed or lost somewhere along the line. In this unique case of apnea, the body never even attempts to take a breathe because it doesn’t realize that it is supposed to.

Unlike obstructive apnea, the body does not fight and struggle to breathe. This means that reduction in sleep quality is for another reason. During sleep the brain monitors the body’s blood oxygen levels, among other things. When a period of breathing is missed, these levels can drop depending on the length of the apnea. The brain will then take action when it notices low levels and causes an increased rate of breathing for some time. These actions lead to a breathing pattern that is very unnatural and can easily aggravate stages of sleep. Awakenings caused from this varied breathing destroy the quality of sleep and can cause important parts of the sleep cycle to be missed.

For more discussion and description about the symptoms and causes of apnea, visit InsomniacAnonymous.com. Although central sleep apnea is an uncommon disorder, it is important to understand how sleep quality can be so easily affected by small changes.

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