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Other Conditions

Sleep Apnoea
Sleep apnoea is a condition characterised by 'stopping breathing' for more than 10 seconds at a time while asleep, together with reduction in blood oxygen levels. Sleep apnoea is usually diagnosed by a polysomnograph or 'sleep study'

Persons with sleep apnoea may display

  • Apnoeas of between 10 seconds and 2 minutes or more
  • Snoring (though not always)
  • Restlessness, excessive movement/ kicking while asleep (restless legs)
  • Mouth breathing
  • Dry mouth/throat on waking
  • Thirst overnight and/or on waking
  • Waking unrefreshed, daytime tiredness, foggy thinking
  • Tendency to fall asleep in meetings and in front of the TV
  • Breathlessness on exercise

Normal sleep occurs in five stages: Stages 1,2,3,4, & REM (rapid eye movement). Stages 3 & 4 are the most restful and deep sleep. But when a personís breathing is disordered, they may be prevented from easily reaching these stages and primarily remain in the light and easily disturbed sleep of stages 1 & 2. A person with sleep apnoea has the added difficulty of 'arousal' occurring each time an apnoea finishes with a gasping breath which drags the person near to consciousness though often they remain asleep. This explains why it often takes a long time for a person to accept that they have a problem needing investigation, much to the frustration of others!

Disturbed breathing and disturbed sleep go hand-in-hand. Signs of disturbed breathing patterns may be seen in people with sleep apnoea both when they are awake and when they are asleep. These signs and symptoms include mouth breathing, fast and or heavy breathing, excessive yawning, frequent sighing, snoring, erratic or irregular breathing and a predominantly upper chest breathing pattern.

The Buteyko Institute Method of breathing training (BIM) addresses dysfunctional breathing habits through breathing training exercises and through education and awareness of posture, sleeping positions and lifestyle behaviours that influence breathing. The BIM teaches people to recognise their incorrect breathing patterns/habits, and teaches them how to improve their breathing which may assist with improving sleep patterns.

See an article on sleep apnoea and the Buteyko Method published in the Australian Nursing Journal:
Obstructive Sleep Apnoea and breathing retraining


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