Sleep apnea is the technical name for whenever breathing is interrupted during sleep.It can be a disruption to the lives of millions of people around the world, and if unchecked, can profoundly affect your health and well-being through your mood, relationships, immune system, and your ability to retain new information.
Apneas can last from ten seconds all the way to a full minute. They tend to be the most problematic when they happen continuously. Some people have their normal breathing pattern abruptly interrupted dozens of times in the span of a single hour.
Sleep deprivation is a factor for several chronic diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes, and even lethargic metabolism. General physicians can easily misdiagnose the symptoms of sleep apnea if they are not given enough context. Symptoms can include depression, headaches, fatigue and dryness of the mouth.
By itself, sleep apnea is rarely a life-threatening condition. It may still be in your best interest to get tested if you are waking up in the middle of the night with apnea symptoms.