Obstructive Sleep Apnea Vs Central Sleep Apnea

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Sleep apnea is a very common sleep disorder for which people rush to sleep study centers. But did you know that there are many types of sleep apnea. Today, a comparison will be drawn between obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea.

What Is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder in which you suddenly lose your breath while sleeping. The airways get blocked and you are unable to breathe. This may happen for a few seconds, after which you will regain your breathing again. There is no such trauma associated with sleep apnea, other than the fact that you wake up gasping for breath. The airways during sleep get blocked because of the low pressure in your breathing.

There are different types of sleep apnea. One is called obstructive sleep apnea and the other one is called central sleep apnea. There are differences between the two. Here is a comparison between the two types of sleep apnea. Keep on reading to find out more about them.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea is a type of sleep apnea, which is caused due to blocking of your airways while you are sleeping. So, when you are sleeping, what happens is that, because of the low pressure through your airways, your airways collapse and become blocked for a while until the pressure is relieved again to open up your blocked airways again.

This happens without you knowing. This has nothing to do with your brain and it is solely a mechanical problem. The airways get blocked because there isn’t enough pressure to keep them open and keep the air flowing. So, what ends up happening is that you lose your breath while sleeping and you suddenly wake up gasping for air.

The shortness of breath is not lethal to anyone, but it is quite traumatizing to know that you were unable to breathe a few seconds ago. When the obstruction is mechanical, the sleep apnea is known as obstructive sleep apnea.

Treatment Of Obstructive Sleep Apnea

The only solution to this using a CPAP machine. It is a mask that you wear before bed time and it regulates the pressure so that your airways remain open throughout the night and they don’t get blocked. The mask helps a lot in this regard and helps to give you a restful sleep at night. So, if you are suffering from obstructive sleep apnea, then a CPAP machine is the best bet for you, to keep yourself from getting up at night and gasping for air.

Central Sleep Apnea

Central sleep apnea is also another type of sleep apnea in which the airways don’t get blocked mechanically due to low pressure inside the airways. This happens due to the brain’s activity. The brain is not able to send signals to your airways to keep them open to allow you to breathe. This is all due to the central nervous system of your body. So, whenever your brain doesn’t signal the airways during your sleep, this can cause you to stop breathing. This is mainly the brain’s doing.

Our brain controls everything while we are asleep. Our heartbeat, our movements, our blood pressure, etc. Breathing is also governed by the brain. Now, in central sleep apnea, the brain is not sending signals to the airways. This can cause you to stop breathing, not because you can’t, but because of the fact that your brain is not allowing you to do so. This can be quite troublesome and traumatic as well.

A question might arise in your head, why does the brain do that? Well, this might be due to the fact that you are suffering from a brain illness, specifically in your lower brain stem. This can allow the brain to stop you from breathing for up to 20 to 25 seconds.


For this, you need to consult with a neurologist. They will know how to diagnose your brain illness and help you reach a cure so that you can sleep peacefully at night. An appointment with your doctor is necessary.


There you have it! Now you know all of the nitty-gritty and all possible differences between obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea. Always consult with a sleep apnea doctor for proper treatment.

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