Sleep Apnoea

Obstructive sleep apnoea is a sleep abnormality that causes complete or partial airway obstruction. The amount of air that can enter the lungs is therefore reduced which leads to higher levels of carbon dioxide in the blood. For individuals with Down syndrome it can occur due to the following reasons

    • Poor muscle tone in the tongue thus causing a blockage of the airways when sleep occurs.
    • Enlarged tonsils
    • Enlarged adenoids
    • Obesity

Some of the symptoms include

    • Snoring
    • Restless and disturbed sleep pattern
    • Wakening up regularly during the night
    • Strange sleeping positions that may include : Extension of the head or neck backwards to accommodate air entry, or sleeping in a sitting position
    • Daytime tiredness
    • Noisy sleep
    • Long pauses in breathing pattern

Sleep apnoea is diagnosed by overnight oxygen saturation monitoring or a 24 hour sleep study which observes the pattern of sleep and the levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide during sleep.

Treatment for sleep apnoea is determined on the results of the sleep study. Home continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) may be recommended, this aid allows for the airway to be open during sleep.