Sleep Disordered Breathing

Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA)

Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) is a common disorder of sleep affecting twice as many men as women. It usually occurs in mid-life, but can affect people at any age. People with OSA have repeated collapse of the upper airway while asleep, resulting in poor sleep quality and in some cases, low blood oxygen levels.

Common features of OSA include:

  • Obesity (a major risk factor)
  • Long-standing snoring
  • Stop breathing episodes in sleep noticed by the bed partner
  • Morning headache and/or dry mouth
  • Excessive sleepiness during the day
  • People with OSA are frequently more sleepy than normal during the day, and may have an increased risk of fall-asleep motor vehicle accidents
  • Untreated severe OSA may increase the risk of developing high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke and heart disease


Diagnosis of OSA usually involves an overnight stay in hospital for a sleep study. This commonly performed procedure enables doctors to measure your breathing and sleep patterns, as well as your blood oxygen levels while you are asleep, and thus determine the presence and severity of OSA.


OSA can be treated in a number of ways. In the majority of patients this is with a device called CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure), a pump which uses air pressure to splint open the airway at night. In milder cases avoiding sleeping on your back or a dental splint can be helpful. Weight loss is an important part of the treatment in many if not most patients. Surgery for the upper airway may also be considered for selected patients.

Click on the links below for more detailed information on treatment for OSA:

For more information download the Obstructive Sleep Apnoea fact sheet from the Sleep Health Foundation website.

Central Sleep Apnoea (CSA)

Central Sleep Apnoea is a disorder in which a persons breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep because the brain temporarily stops sending signals to muscles that control breathing. Unlike Obstructive Sleep Apnoea there is no obstruction or blockage of the upper airway.


Diagnosis of CSA involves an overnight sleep study to detect the presence of CSA and measure the severity of the condition.


There are several potential treatments for CSA including CPAP, Bi-level positive airway pressure, Adaptive servo-ventilation, oxygen therapy as well as certain types of medications.

The type of treatment will be advised by a sleep specialist following a sleep study.

For more information download the Central Sleep Apnoea fact sheet from the Sleep Health Foundation website.