Why prolonged lack of sleep makes you ill
So what exactly is sleep apnoea?
Why prolonged lack of sleep makes you ill

Sleep apnea

Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA)

- is defined as a complete interruption to the flow of breathing air for more than 10  seconds in spite of efforts by the muscles in the thorax and abdomen (chest and stomach muscles). This means that as you sleep, your airways above the epiglottis relax and allow pauses in your breathing to occur, sometimes lasting up to a minute. You are completely unaware of this – but other people aren‘t so lucky: you vibrate, rumble and growl – in other words you snore, and fairly loudly too.

Did you know that according to studies, around 2 percent of women and 4 percent of men suffer from sleep apnoea? The illness is far more than a minor irritant: as well as leading to chronic tiredness, regular pauses in breathing at night can have serious health consequences. A lack of oxygen in the blood increases the risk of heart disease, adult-onset diabetes and morning strokes.
*Source: Young et al 1993, Philipps et al 1994, Walther & Bardenheuter 2001

Risk factors

  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Excess alcohol consumption


  • Heavy snoring
  • Breathing interruptions at night
  • Increasingly superficial sleep, less deep sleep/dream sleep

Greater incidence of

  • Respiratory disorders
  • Heartburn
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Narcolepsy
  • Poor concentration
  • Depression

Possible treatments

  • Medication
  • Surgery
  • Weight loss
  • Breathing therapy devices

Snoring makes you lonely – and can make you ill too

The best thing to do is to go and see your doctor. He will assess your symptoms and decide on an appropriate course of action. If there are indications of a sleep apnoea syndrome, he may refer you to a specialist.

Individual sleep profile

A sleep clinic can accurately diagnose your sleep problems and create an individual sleep profile for you. This is done by continuously monitoring various body functions over an entire night.

Specialist sleep clinic

Experienced specialists monitor and record your heart rhythm (ECG), check the electrical activity in your brain (EEG) and the oxygen levels in your blood (pulse oximetry). The experts at the sleep clinic will also take account of your body temperature, respiratory air flow, respiratory movements and many other  parameters.

Healthy sleep - 3 REM phases
Healthy sleep - 3 REM phases
Disrupted sleep - minimal REM phases
Disrupted sleep - minimal REM phases