apnea is a cessation of breathing for at least 10 seconds
while asleep. This may occur because the upper airway is blocked
or malformed, or because the respiratory muscles stop functioning.
Most people experience occasional sleep
apnea, but frequent recurrences disturb sleep and can cause
daytime sleepiness and loss of attention. Since sleep apnea
deprives the body (and brain) of oxygen, severe cases can
lead to hypoxia.
Sleep apnea can be life-threatening in infants and old people.
by Catherine E. Myers. Copyright © 2006 Memory Loss and the Brain