When her son was in preschool, Cynthia Chin-Lee remembers teachers saying he would fall asleep during playtime. Now, 10-year-old Joshua is impossible to rouse in the mornings, saying, "I need to sleep 10 more minutes. Leave me alone."
Joshua seems tired, he has bags under his eyes, and he's not doing well in school, explains Chin-Lee, 53, a manager at a software company in Palo Alto, Calif. Chin-Lee's husband had a theory: Maybe their son had sleep apnea, a condition with which her husband had recently...
In central sleep apnea, breathing is disrupted regularly during sleep because of the way the brain functions. It is not that you cannot breathe (which is true in obstructive sleep apnea); rather, you do not try to breathe at all. The brain does not tell your muscles to breathe. This type of sleep apnea is usually associated with serious illness, especially an illness in which the lower brainstem -- which controls breathing -- is affected. In infants, central sleep apnea produces pauses in breathing that can last 20 seconds.
Who Gets Central Sleep Apnea?
In general, the main risk factors for sleep apnea are male gender, being overweight, and being over 40 years of age. However, anyone can have any of the types of sleep apnea.
Central sleep apnea is often associated with other conditions. One form of central sleep apnea, however, has no known cause and is not associated with any other disease. In addition, central sleep apnea can occur with obstructive sleep apnea, or it can occur alone.
Conditions that may be associated with central sleep apnea include the following: