What is Obstructive Sleep Apnoea?

Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) is the most common type of Sleep Disorder. Tens of thousands of Australians suffer from OSA, which adversely impacts on their health and their quality of life.


In adults, OSA occurs when a person’s airway becomes partially or completely blocked repeatedly during sleep. This results in interrupted breathing patterns during sleep causing fragmented sleep architecture because the individual must wake up enough to regain muscle control in the throat and to reopen their airway. This constant awakening means that people with apnoeas do not get sufficient or good quality sleep, resulting in daytime sleepiness, fatigue and/or insomnia.  

Blocked or partially blocked airways reduces sufficient air from entering a person’s lungs. When sufficient air doesn’t get into a persons lungs, the level of oxygen in the blood falls and the level of carbon dioxide rises. With OSA, after a period of not breathing, the brain wakes up, and breathing resumes. This period of time can range from a few seconds to over a minute. When breathing resumes, the size of the airway remains reduced in size. The tissues surrounding this narrow airway vibrate—what we call snoring. In other words, snoring is a sign of an obstructed airway, but it does mean that a person is breathing; silence might indicate that the airway is completely blocked.

If OSA is left untreated, it can become a potentially serious Sleep Disorder and Health Risk.