Loud or irregular snoring, pauses in breathing, excessive sleepiness, and frequent urination at night are all symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea. Sleep apnea occurs when breathing stops completely or airflow is severely reduced. During sleep, the muscles in the throat become more relaxed. In obstructive sleep apnea, the person's airway collapses. Arousals from sleep occur when the brain tells the body to wake up and breath. A person with OSA may not remember waking up, but experiences sleepiness during the day because of the repeated disturbances.
Aging, excess weight, family history, and narrow airway anatomy all increase the chances of having OSA. OSA is a fairly common problem, but can have serious health risks. Overnight sleep studies are performed to diagnose sleep apnea. Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) and Bi-Level therapy are effective forms of treatment for sleep apnea.
For additional information about OSA, see the Whitney Sleep Center Resources page.