Sleep and Aging

Frequently Asked Questions

16. What causes sleep apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea is caused by a narrowing or blockage of the upper airway, usually when the soft tissue in the rear of the throat collapses during sleep. In central sleep apnea, the airway is not blocked, but the brain fails to signal the muscles that control breathing. Central sleep apnea is a less common type of sleep apnea. Often, both types of sleep apnea occur in the same person.