Sleep Education

American Academy of Sleep Medicine 

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Central Sleep Apnea – Symptoms & Risk Factors


Almost all people with CSA have the following problems:
  • Disrupted sleep with frequent awakenings
  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Daytime sleepiness
Other problems often seen include the following:
  • Snoring
  • Pauses in breathing
  • Waking up short of breath
A bed partner often can tell how often you snore and whether or not you stop breathing.

Many people with CSA are sleepy during the day. They find that they are still tired even after a nap. When you stop breathing, your body wakes up. It happens so quickly, you aren’t even aware of it. This disrupts your sleep process. You can stop breathing hundreds of times in one night. This will make you feel very tired the next day.

Medical conditions related to some types of CSA can also worsen the problems with sleeping and daytime sleepiness.

Risk Factors

  • Primary Central Sleep Apnea — Not known, but it appears to be quite rare and occurs in the middle-aged or elderly. Men seem to be affected more than women. There may be a tendency for inheritance. Some neurological conditions may increase the risk. These include multi-system atrophy and Parkinson disease.
  • Cheyne-Stokes Breathing Pattern — Occurs mainly in men aged 60 or older. It is seen in 25% to 40% of men with chronic congestive heart failure. It is also found in 10% of men who have had a stroke. It is rarely seen in women and does not appear to be inherited.
  • Medical Condition Not Cheyne-Stokes — Occurs rarely in patients with a variety of medical conditions. These include heart or kidney problems and abnormalities of the base of the brain where breathing is regulated.
  • High-Altitude Periodic Breathing — Not known, but it appears to be more common in men. This is because men are more responsive to changes in the level of oxygen and carbon dioxide in their blood. This responsiveness is thought to be partially inherited. Some people sleeping at altitudes higher than 15,000 feet (about 5,000 meters) will have this disorder. Anyone sleeping above 25,000 feet (about 7,600 meters) will be affected.
  • Due to Drug or Substance — Appears to occur in anyone taking long-acting opioids for longer than two months. There are no other characteristics known.
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