Causes of Sleep Apnea & Snoring

There are three types of sleep apnea: obstructive, central, and mixed. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is caused by a blockage of the airway, usually when the soft tissue in the rear of the throat collapses and closes. Central sleep apnea involves a failure of the central nervous system. The airway is not blocked, but the brain fails to signal the muscles to breathe. Mixed apnea is a combination of the two. Of these three, Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common.
For those with mild to moderate sleep apnea, the patient will awaken between 10 and 60 times per hour, but for those with severe OSA, it could occur more than 100 times per hour. When the airway is totally obstructed, the patient will awaken with a cough or gasping sound in an attempt to open the airway. Once normal breathing is restored and the person falls asleep, the cycle continues.

Risk factors include:

  • nasal obstruction
  • enlarged tonsils or tongue
  • flabby soft palate
  • being overweight
  • large neck size
  • heavy alcohol consumption or heavy smoking
  • continual stress
  • habitual taking of sleeping pills
  • TMJ disorder