: it is a disorder that
causes a child or adult to stop breathing for several moments (up to a
full minute) when asleep. These
happen several times a night (up to 100 times!) and can
There are three different types, based on the different
causes, i.e. how the
airway is being blocked: Obstructive Apnea, Central
or Complex Apnea (See below for definitions).
Sadly apnea, or
also apnoea, is
about 2-4% of all adults, and 1-3% of children would suffer from it.
goes undiagnosed and untreated
Most people are not aware of their breathing problems at night: their sleep is disrupted due to the breathing pause but they seemingly go straight back to sleep (as a result most patients do not feel they were truly awake).
However, they do not spend enough time in a deep sleep so they get
very poor rest quality
(not to mention that of their partner's or parents' who often wake up
at each breathing gasp too!). During the breathing pause, there is reduced oxygen flow to the brain.
The most obvious side
effects of apnea
are daytime sleepiness and severe
fatigue. But when
, it will also cause high blood
pressure and other cardiovascular diseases. Frequent
headaches, memory and concentration problems, excessive weight gain are
all possible side effects too.
The good thing is that it can be
and that effective
do exist. If you often snore (loudly), are
(lightly) overweight, feel very tired during the day, or have been told
you gasp for breath at night sometimes, do check with your doctor!
High risk factors
are: being male, being overweight and being 40+ years
old. However, many kids, youngsters and women of any age have it too. There are a couple of pediatric conditions where sleep apnea is common: Down syndrome, craniofacial abnormalities and cerebral palsy. If you have such a diagnosis then it may be worth being extra vigilant for signs of apnea, and ask your pediatrician specifically about it.
Sleep Apnea Definition (OSA)
This is the most common one. It is when the
. What happens usually is that the soft
tissue at the back of the throat collapses,
This closes the airway, until the person wakes up, gasping for breath
and consciously opens the airway again.
In this case, there is no physical blocking of the airway but
brain signal failure
What happens is that the brain signal necessary to keep the airway
muscles functioning, does not go through correctly.
Heidi Holvoet, PhD, is the founder of the Baby Sleep Advice website and movement, an award-winning author, baby & toddler sleep consultant with 14+ years experience as well as a certified lactation counselor.
Over the years, Heidi has received several awards inluding a Mom's Choice Award (MCA) and National Parenting Awards (NAPPA) for her Baby Sleep Advice website, programs and books.
She is also a member of the Association of Professional Sleep Consultants of which she was one of the earliest contributors. She obtained her PhD degree in physics at the University of Ghent in Belgium.
Heidi is passionate about helping babies and their parents sleep more and better, with her trademark approach that has been proven and praised time and again by parents worldwide to be effective and truly no-tears. Respect for you as a parent and your baby, is at the heart of Heidi's warm and kind support. Her approach always keeps in mind a baby's needs and abilities at any given age, is based on pediatric science and the most up to date knowledge in infant care and sleep science.