What is Sleep Apnea?
The word apnea literally means “cessation of breath.”
Sleep apnea is a disorder characterized by the complete or partial cessation of breathing during sleep, despite attempts to breathe. Persons with sleep apnea typically make periodic gasping or snorting noises resulting in interrupted sleep. These interruptions in breathing, called apneas, are associated with:
• daytime sleepiness
• inability to stay alert and process information
• increased risk of heart attack
• mood changes and irritability
The most common symptom of sleep apnea is excessive sleepiness during the day which is caused
by frequently interrupted night time sleep. Studies by the World Health Organization (WHO) have
shown that insufficient sleep has been linked to the development and management of a number of
chronic diseases and conditions including:
• cardiovascular disease,
• sexual dysfunction
• accidents and even death
In Canada, a 2009 Sleep Apnea Rapid Response Questionnaire* from Health Canada revealed that approximately 860,000 (3%) of Canadian adults 18 years and older reported being informed by a health professional that they have Sleep Apnea.
* The Public Health Agency of Canada Sleep Apnea Rapid Response Questionnaire to estimate the prevalence of Sleep Apnea in the Canadian population.