Sleep apnoea is a condition where the walls of the throat relax and narrow during sleep, interrupting normal breathing. This may lead to regularly interrupted sleep, which can have a big impact on quality of life and increases the risk of developing certain conditions.
Some of the most common symptoms are loud snoring, noisy and laboured breathing, and repeated short periods where breathing is interrupted by gasping or snorting.
Sleep apnoea and obesity
In adults, the most common cause of obstructive sleep apnoea is excess weight and obesity, which is associated with soft tissue of the mouth and throat. During sleep, when throat and tongue muscles are more relaxed, this soft tissue can cause the airway to become blocked.[i]
For more information on sleep apnoea please see the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
[i] Schwartz, A.R., Patil, S.P., Laffam, et al. (2007) Obesity and Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Proceedings of the American Thoracic Society. Vol. 5, pp. 185-192