What is the cycle of obstructive sleep apnea?

What is the cycle of obstructive sleep apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea, known as OSA, causes disruptions in breathing during sleep. Here’s a little from our Surrey dentist on 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 your throat is the narrowest part of that pathway.

Muscles keep this pathway open while you're awake, but when you’re sleeping those muscles relax, causing the opening to narrow. When air passes through this narrowed opening it can cause the throat to vibrate. This vibration causes the sound we know as snoring.

However, in some people the pathway narrows too much and not enough air can get through to the lungs. When this happens, the brain sounds the alarm to get the airway open and the person usually wakes up briefly. During this brief wakeful period the brain reactivates the muscles that hold the airway open, air can travel freely again, and the brain goes back to sleep. This describes the disorder called obstructive sleep apnea otherwise known as OSA.

Understandably, when this process is repeated frequently throughout the night, it can result in a lot of interrupted sleep, as well as a lack of oxygen flow to the brain, which can bring on a variety of physical and mental health problems.

If you think that you may be suffering from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Contact our Surrey dentists today to book a consultation.

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