Sleep Apnea refers to cessation of breathing during sleep. In Hong Kong, an estimated 300,000 people (which is 5% of the population) suffer from this disease.
The word “apnea” is derived from Greek, which means “without breath”.
A person with sleep apnea stops breathing repeatedly while sleeping anywhere from 10 seconds to sometimes over a minute.
For mild cases, the above event occurs five times per hour while for some severe cases, it may occur up to 10 times.
Due to inadequate oxygen supply, the brain and other organs may lack oxygen and some individuals may wake up during sleep. Although an individual may not recall waking up, sleep is disrupted temporarily. As a result, sleep deprivation and excessive daytime sleepiness occur. Without sufficient quality sleep, excessive daytime fatigue will happen and interfere with daytime tasks such as work, school and social interactions. People who have to operate heavy machineries or drive vehicles will be at risk of having serious accidents.