More than 18 million people have sleep apnea, according to the National Sleep Foundation, and yet most of us still know little about the sleep disorder other than it has something to do with pauses in breathing.
Yes, sleep apnea causes sufferers to temporarily stop breathing -- sometimes hundreds of times a night and possibly for longer than a full minute, according to the American Sleep Apnea Association. But what does it truly mean to stop breathing? In honor of Sleep Apnea Awareness Week, the first seven days of every October, take a minute to check out what really happens during sleep apnea in this Mayo Clinic video:
The most common treatment for sleep apnea is continuous positive airway pressure or CPAP. Recent recommendations from the American College of Physicians point to weight loss as an effective approach as well. "Obesity is a risk factor for obstructive sleep apnea and the evidence indicates that intensive weight loss interventions help improve sleep study results and symptoms of OSA," American College of Physicians President Dr. Molly Cooke said in a statement.