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What is Sleep Apnea?
The word “apnea” derives from a Greek word meaning “no breathing.” Sleep apnea refers to a common and serious medical disorder where breathing during sleep stops for periods of 10 seconds or more repetitively over the night. In the mildest form, breathing interruptions are partial — these events are called “hypopneas”. People are diagnosed with sleep apnea when the number of apneas plus hypopneas per hour of sleep (referred to as the “AHI”) recorded on an overnight sleep test is greater than 5 per hour of sleep and there are symptoms such as snoring and daytime sleepiness. Sleep apnea is also diagnosed when the AHI is greater than 15, even in the absence of symptoms.