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My wife says there are times during the night when I seem to stop breathing. Could this be connected to why I feel tired and sleepy all day?

“Yes, most likely,” says Justo Montalvo, M.D., a board-certified physician specializing in Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic. “Breathing disruptions during sleep that are accompanied by daytime drowsiness are telltale signs of a nighttime disorder known as sleep apnea. Left untreated, this condition can lead to a wide-range of undesirable health consequences, including an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.

Dr. Montalvo says sleep deprivation can also cause lifestyle difficulties, such as slow reaction time while driving a car and inefficiency at work.

“There are different types of sleep apnea, but the most common is caused by a collapse of tissue in the area around the back of the tongue, soft palate and throat area which impedes the upper airway passage,” he says

Dr. Montalvo emphasizes the importance of having a proper medical evaluation to confirm the cause of sleep disorders.

For patients meeting certain requirements, he may recommend a diagnostic study at Kelsey-Seybold’s Sleep Center where Sleep Medicine specialists, using modern sleep-monitoring technology, can better evaluate a patient’s condition and recommend treatment.

“Without proper treatment, sleep disorders and the associated effects of sleep deprivation can worsen over time. My advice is to seek help from a qualified Sleep Medicine specialist,” he concludes.