In a way, your body goes on “auto-pilot” while you sleep. Your brain regulates automatic functions for you, such as breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure. Although sleep is a complex process that is not fully understood, it is known that a good night’s sleep is important for optimal health and functioning.
Central sleep apnea is less common. It is caused by a low blood carbon dioxide level. Carbon dioxide is a powerful breathing signal and if it is too low, the brain fails to signal the lungs to breathe.
Am I at Risk
Sleep apnea most frequently occurs in people over the age of 40, although individuals of all ages, including children, may experience it. In adults younger than 65, sleep apnea is more common in African Americans than Caucasians. Sleep apnea is more common in the elderly and obese populations.
Risk factors for sleep apnea include:
_____ Being overweight, especially with a large collar (neck) size is a risk factor for sleep apnea. However, many people that are not overweight have sleep apnea.
_____ Consuming alcohol increases the risk of sleep apnea.
_____ People with blocked nasal passages, a large tongue, narrow throat, or other structural problems have an increased risk of sleep apnea.
_____ High blood pressure and other medical conditions are associated with sleep apnea.
_____ Sleep apnea appears to run in families, and researchers are studying a possible genetic pattern of inheritance.
_____ People that snore loudly are more likely to have sleep apnea than people that do not snore.
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The iHealthSpot patient education library was written collaboratively by the iHealthSpot editorial team which includes Senior Medical Authors Dr. Mary Car-Blanchard, OTD/OTR/L and Valerie K. Clark, and the following editorial advisors: Steve Meadows, MD, Ernie F. Soto, DDS, Ronald J. Glatzer, MD, Jonathan Rosenberg, MD, Christopher M. Nolte, MD, David Applebaum, MD, Jonathan M. Tarrash, MD, and Paula Soto, RN/BSN. This content complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information. The library commenced development on September 1, 2005 with the latest update/addition on February 16, 2022. For information on iHealthSpot’s other services including medical website design, visit www.iHealthSpot.com.