What Causes Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the muscles in the back of your throat relax.

When the muscles relax, your airway narrows or closes as you breathe in, and you can't get an adequate breath in. This may lower the level of oxygen in your blood. Your brain senses this inability to breathe and briefly rouses you from sleep so you can reopen your airway. This awakening is usually so brief that you don't remember it.

You may make a snorting, choking or gasping sound. This pattern can repeat itself from 5 to 100 times each hour, all night long. More than five apneas per hour is abnormal. More than 30-40 per hour is considered severe sleep apnea.These disruptions impair your ability to reach the desired deep, restful phases of sleep, and you'll probably feel sleepy during your waking hours.

Consult a medical professional if you experience any of the above symptoms.