Sleep apnea is a disorder in which a person stops breathing 10 or more times during each hour of sleep. These pauses in breathing are the result of a blocked airway caused when the tongue and throat muscles relax during sleep. Each pause in breathing lasts between 10 and 60 seconds, and eventually wakes the sleeper. As a result, sleep is repeatedly interrupted, and sufferers have difficulty experiencing deep, quality sleep.
Sleep apnea causes excessive daytime sleepiness, which puts drivers at a 2-5 times greater risk of car accidents. This is a concern for commercial truck drivers, who spend much of their waking hours driving large vehicles.
Sleep apnea is very hard on the cardiovascular system. Sleep apnea puts sufferers at a significantly higher risk of high blood pressure, heart failure, and stroke.
The good news is that sleep apnea is treatable. Sleep apnea is commonly treated using a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device; however, your doctor may suggest other treatments such as weight loss, changing your sleep position, or an oral appliance instead of CPAP therapy.