Jan 12, 2024
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If you have symptoms like fatigue or grogginess despite getting a full night’s sleep, you might have sleep apnea. There are actually a few different types of sleep apnea and they each have different causes. The best way to determine whether you have sleep apnea is by meeting with a knowledgeable sleep specialist for testing and diagnosis. In the meantime, here’s what to know about sleep apnea and its different types.


The most common sleeping disorder is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). It happens when the throat becomes blocked because of your anatomy, cutting off or reducing breathing.

If you have OSA, your tongue and soft palate may rattle while you sleep, which can cause snoring. You may wake up feeling like you are suffocating. Usually, your lungs work and your body keeps trying to breathe during OSA, but not enough air can get into the upper airway.

OSA is more prevalent in older people, men, overweight people, pregnant women, and back sleepers. Snoring, gasping for air, and waking up with a dry mouth are all common obstructive sleep apnea symptoms.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea Treatment

There are 2 common ways to manage OSA: CPAP machines and Oral appliances. The CPAP involves wearing a special mask over the nose and/or mouth that constantly blows air into the throat to keep the upper airway open.

Oral appliances keep the airway clear by keeping the jaw in a more forward position which moves the tongue away from the airway.


This type of sleep apnea happens when the brain temporarily fails to provide the proper signals to the muscles that control breathing. Health problems or diseases that damage the brainstem can cause central sleep apnea.

Symptoms can vary from person to person, and some may not experience any at all. Symptoms can include:

  • Insomnia
  • Shortness of breath
  • Drowsiness

Another characteristic of central sleep apnea is a breathing pattern called Cheyne-Stokes breathing, in which the patient cycles between periods of hyperventilation and not breathing. In some cases, congestive heart failure can cause central sleep apnea.


When obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and central sleep apnea (CSA) coexist, the result is complex sleep apnea syndrome. Complex sleep apnea syndrome may not be immediately apparent in initial sleep testing. 

Complex Sleep Apnea Treatment

It is possible that a combination of therapies, including therapy for any underlying problems and the use of CPAP or other positive airway pressure modes, may be required to treat complex sleep apnea syndrome effectively. Complex sleep apnea is very rare and requires the expertise of a sleep specialist in order to best treat it.


If you have many risk factors for major diseases, your risk of sleep apnea rises. The proper treatment makes a better night’s sleep and fewer health problems possible. Visit Dr. Steven Wilk of Denver Sleep Apnea Center in Denver, Colorado, for a consultation. You can contact us by calling or filling out our online form.