Harvard Health Letter

Is that daytime sleepiness obstructive sleep apnea?

As many as 18 million people in the United States are struggling with this condition.

If a few extra Zs don't relieve your daytime sleepiness now and then, you may be struggling with a condition known as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). It causes people to stop breathing periodically while they sleep.

The problem

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the muscles in the back of your throat relax too much when you are asleep. This lets the tissues around your throat close and block the airway. You stop breathing for a few seconds, and your brain has to wake you up enough so you gasp or change positions to unblock the airway. These stop-breathing episodes can occur dozens of times per hour, and you won't even know it.

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