Skip to main content

Understanding
Sleep Apnea

1 in 3 Singaporeans suffer from moderate to severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) according to study funded by the Jurong Health Services Research and Quality Improvement Grant.

Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder, which patients would stop breathing during sleep.

When left untreated, such events can happen hundreds of times during sleep and each may last for a few seconds to a few minutes.  

The patient usually wakes up in the morning feeling exhausted from lack of sleep and oxygen.

3 Types of Sleep Apnea


Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most common type. Occurs when the tissues in the back of the upper throat collapse during sleep, blocking the air passage even though the action of breathing continues. In most cases, the person is unaware, snores when sleeping and may wake up gasping or snoring. 

Central sleep apnea (CSA) – which is not as common as OSA – where the central nerve system fails to give proper breathing signals to drive the respiratory efforts.
Mixed sleep apnea (MSA) – where obstructive and central sleep apnea occur together.

Who Is At Risk?

Sleep apnea can occur in all age groups and body morphologies but there are several factors that dramatically increase the likelihood of sleep apnea:

Male Gender - more common in male than female. The male-to-female ratio is estimated to about 2:1 in the general population.
Obesity – around 77% of obese person suffer from sleep apnea
Advanced age – sleep apnea is more likely in populations over 50 years old

Thyroid conditions or goitre that constrict the neck or airway
Enlarged tonsils, and a small airway or nasal passages
Lifestyle impact - Ingestion of alcohol, sedatives or sleeping pills before bed