Here's What Happens When You Stop Breathing In Your Sleep

    *starts paying attention to every breath and freaking out*

    1. It's actually a common disorder called "sleep apnea," and it affects about 5–10% of adults.

    2. It usually happens when the airway becomes partially or fully blocked.

    3. Obstructive sleep apnea is usually caused by abnormal anatomy or excess weight around the neck.

    4. That said, obesity doesn't necessarily cause sleep apnea, and literally anyone can have it.

    5. The less common type is "central sleep apnea," where the brain just tells the lungs to stop moving.

    6. So what happens when you stop breathing for a bit? Eventually your brain realizes there's a lack of oxygen in the body and wakes you up to breathe.

    7. These "apneic events" can happen anywhere from five times to over 30 times every hour.

    8. Alcohol, sleeping pills, and muscle relaxants can all make sleep apnea worse.

    9. Obviously all this waking up to breathe prevents you from falling into deep, restorative sleep.

    10. So a major symptom of sleep apnea is severe exhaustion and fatigue during the day.

    11. Oh, also, you probably won't have any memory of your sleep apnea.

    12. So you probably won't know you have it until a sleeping partner points it out.

    13. Untreated sleep apnea can have long-term health effects like high blood pressure, stroke, and weight gain.

    14. In order to get diagnosed, you usually have to do a sleep study.

    15. The most common treatment is the CPAP machine, but some people opt for surgery or dental appliances.

    So don't panic...but if you have any of the sleep apnea symptoms you might want to talk to your doctor or look into getting a sleep study!