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Sleep apnoea

Sleep apnoea is when your breathing stops and starts while you sleep. The most common type is called obstructive sleep apnoea.

The main symptoms of sleep apnoea include making gasping or choking noises while you sleep, loud snoring and feeling very tired during the day.

Sleep apnoea is usually treated with a mask you wear while you're asleep (CPAP machine).

Sleep apnoea is caused by your airways becoming relaxed and narrow while you sleep. It's linked to things like obesity and getting older.

Read more on the NHS website.

The main symptoms of sleep apnoea include making gasping or choking noises while you sleep, loud snoring and feeling very tired during the day.

Check if you have sleep apnoea

Symptoms of sleep apnoea mainly happen while you sleep.

They include:

During the day, you may also:

It can be hard to tell if you have sleep apnoea. It may help to ask someone to stay with you while you sleep so they can check for the symptoms.

Read more on the NHS website.

Sleep apnoea is usually treated with a mask you wear while you're asleep (CPAP machine).

Medical treatments

Sleep apnoea does not always need to be treated if it's mild.

But many people need to use a device called a CPAP machine. You'll be given this for free on the NHS if you need it.

CPAP machine

A CPAP machine gently pumps air into a mask you wear over your mouth or nose while you sleep.

It can help:

  • improve your breathing while you sleep by stopping your airways getting too narrow
  • improve the quality of your sleep and help you feel less tired
  • reduce the risk of problems linked to sleep apnoea (like high blood pressure)

Using a CPAP machine may feel strange or awkward at first, but try to keep using it. It works best if you use it every night.

Tell your doctor if you find it uncomfortable or hard to use.

Other treatments

Less common treatments for sleep apnoea include:

  • a gum shield-like device that holds your airways open while you sleep (mandibular advancement device)
  • surgery to help your breathing, such as removing large tonsils

These treatments may not work as well as a CPAP machine.

Self-care

If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnoea, there are some things you can do to help.

These may be all you need to do if your sleep apnoea is mild.


Do

  • try to lose weight if you're overweight
  • sleep on your side – try taping a tennis ball to the back of your sleepwear, or buy a special pillow or bed wedge to help keep you on your side

Don't

  • do not smoke
  • do not drink too much alcohol – especially shortly before going to sleep
  • do not take sleeping pills unless recommended by a doctor – they can make sleep apnoea worse

Read more on the NHS website.

Sleep apnoea is caused by your airways becoming relaxed and narrow while you sleep. It's linked to things like obesity and getting older.

Read more on the NHS website.