Sleep Apnea

Sleep Apnea (or sleep apnoea) is a sleep disorder characterized by pauses in breathing or instances of shallow or infrequent breathing during sleep.

Types of sleep apnoea

There are three main types of sleep apnoea:

  • Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA)
  • Central sleep apnoea (CSA)
  • Mixed sleep apnoea

Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA)

Obstructive sleep apnoea is the most common type of sleep apnoea, making up 84% of sleep apnoea diagnoses.


In most cases of obstructive sleep apnoea, air stops flowing to the lungs because of a blockage (or obstruction) in the upper airway-that is, in the nose or throat.

The upper airway could become blocked due to:

  • the muscles relaxing too much during sleep, which blocks sufficient air from getting through*
  • the weight of your neck narrowing the airway
  • inflamed tonsils, or other temporary reasons
  • structural reasons, like the shape of the nose, neck or jaw

* This narrow airway causes a vibration in your throat, which creates the sound of snoring.
Try our OSA screening tool and self asses yourself:

Central sleep apnoea (CSA)

Central sleep apnoea (CSA) is the least prevalent type of sleep apnoea.1

In some cases, the airway is actually open but air stops flowing to the lungs because no effort is made to breathe. This is because the communication between the brain and the body has been lost, so the automatic action of breathing stops.

Those with CSA don’t often snore, so the condition sometimes goes unnoticed.

Mixed sleep apnoea

This is a mixture of both obstructive sleep apnoea OSA (where there is a blockage or obstruction in the upper airway) and CSA (where no effort is made to breathe). Your doctor can help you understand more about this if you need to.

If you have any concerns that you may have any type of sleep apnoea, please consult your doctor.