OSA (Obstructive Sleep Apnea) is a disorder in which the soft tissues at the back of the throat relax during sleep causing the airway to narrow. This results in snoring and reduced or even complete stoppage of air flow into the lungs and lowers blood oxygen levels.
When the brain detects lower oxygen levels, a small "fight or flight" reflex is triggered, causing a brief arousal from sleep. This can occur hundreds of times a night preventing deep sleep and results in excessive daytime sleepiness.
Common consequences of OSA are excessive daytime sleepiness and sluggish brain function. These have been linked to an increased risk of car and work accidents, decreased productivity and a lower quality of life.
Some research has shown that there may be a relationship between untreated OSA and heart disease, stroke and impaired glucose metabolism (pre-diabetes). Treating OSA might help prevent, or improve control of these health problems, but further research is needed.