Sleep apnoea occurs when the air passage in the throat closes down during sleep leading to asphyxia and repeated arousal. Sufferers are prevented from normal satisfying sleep and as a consequence wake unrefreshed and are sleepy during the day. Sleep apnoea affects 1-4% of men - particularly those who are obese - but can also affect women and children. One of the more obvious symptoms is heavy snoring - although not all snorers suffer from apnoea.
The UK has lagged behind other countries in recognising and treating this condition, which can have serious consequences. For example, falling asleep at the wheel has been associated with sleep apnoea as have poor performance at work and at school. Increased mortality from heart attacks and strokes has also been associated with sleep apnoea.
The report (published in 1993) describes the clinical symptoms and the consequences of sleep apnoea, and makes recommendations for staffing, facilities and funding required for treatment and further research.
Copies available on request.