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What is Sleep Apnoea

The word ‘apnoea’ is derived from Greek terminology meaning ‘without breath’. Therefore, Sleep Apnoea is the name used when these gaps in breathing occur at night while you are asleep. During apnoea episodes, the muscles supporting your airway relax, thus stopping air from getting into your lungs. Your airway will either totally collapse or partially collapse.

When your airway partially collapses, it leads to a sharp decrease in airflow for 10 seconds or longer. This means that when your airway is closed over, your blood oxygen levels drop. This may happen many times over the course of the night, with the airway only able to reopen through the effort of snoring or gasping for breath.

Now you are probably thinking ‘but I don’t snore!’. The truth is, however, that most people with OSA are not aware that they snore and are totally oblivious to any choking sensation/pauses in breathing while asleep! More often than not, it is either a partner or a housemate that picks up on the symptoms of OSA before the individual themselves.

Causes of Sleep Apnoea

There is no definitive cause for sleep apnoea but there are several risk factors, such as:

  • Being overweight
  • Being male
  • Being 40 years of age or older
  • Having a large neck (greater than 18 inches?
  • Taking medicines that have a sedative effect
  • Having an unusual inner-neck structure, such as an unusually narrow airway, unusually large tonsils or tongue, or having a small lower jaw that pushes the tongue backwards.
  • Having excess folds in the inner lining of the mouth (mucous membrane).
  • Consuming alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Being menopausal
  • Having a family history of OSA
  • Having diabetes
  • Suffering from nasal congestion

Symptoms of Sleep Apnoea

People with sleep apnoea may complain of excessive daytime sleepiness often with irritability or restlessness. It is normally the bed partner, family or friends who notice the symptoms first. Most people with sleep apnoea snore loudly. Their breathing may be noisy and laboured, and it is often interrupted by gasping and snorting with each episode of apnoea. People with sleep apnoea can typically relate with the following:

  • Feeling inclined to nod off during daytime hours
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Memory loss
  • Morning headaches
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Nocturia i.e. a frequent need to use the loo at night
  • A general feeling of tiredness
  • Poor energy levels despite having had a good night’s sleep

How to Get Checked

If you have symptoms of excessive daytime sleepiness, such as feeling drowsy, a lack of energy and poor memory, please click here to take our online sleep test. If possible, ask a partner, friend or relative to observe you while you are asleep. They may be able to spot episodes of breathlessness that could help to confirm a diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA).

Visit your GP. They will ask you several questions about your symptoms, such as whether you regularly fall asleep during the day against your will. Your GP will also carry out a physical examination and some tests, including a blood pressure test. A blood test is also likely to be arranged. The physical examination and tests are carried out to rule out other conditions that could explain your tiredness, such as hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid gland).

If your GP feels that you may be suffering from OSA, they will refer you to a Respiratory Physician who may need to observe you while you are asleep. To do this, you might be asked to spend a night at a sleep centre so that any events that indicate OSA can be monitored. To find your nearest sleep centre, please refer to the list below. Alternatively, you may be given a monitoring device to wear at night while you sleep at home. The device is returned to the sleep centre the following day so that the recorded information can be downloaded by staff.

Directory Of Irish Sleep Centres

Please click on your county, or the closest county, to find where your local sleep centre is located.


Beacon Hospital, Respiratory Unit, Sandyford, Dublin 18

Website | Phone: 01 2936694

Beaumont Hospital, Respiratory Dept., Dublin 9

Website | Phone: 01 8093166

The Blackrock Clinic, Sleep Laboratory, Rock Road, Blackrock, Co. Dublin.

Website | Phone: 01 2832222

Bon Secours Hospital, Glasnevin, Dublin 9

Website | Phone: 01 8065479

Mater Private Hospital, Sleep Laboratory, Eccles Street, Dublin 7,

Website | Phone: 01 8858164

St. Vincent’s Private Hospital, Respiratory Sleep Disorders Unit, Herbert Avenue, Merrion, Dublin 4

Website | Phone: 01 2638000

St. James’s Hospital, Respiratory Clinic, James’s Street, Dublin 8

Website | Phone: 01 4103763

Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital Crumlin, Cooley Rd, Crumlin, Dublin, Dublin 12

Website | Phone: 01 4096100

Connolly Hospital, Respiratory & Sleep Diagnostics, Mill Rd, Abbotstown, Dublin 15,

Website | Phone: 01 6465000

Hermitage Medical Clinic, Old Lucan Road, Dublin 20

Website | Phone: 01 6459000

Peamount Hospital, Newcastle, County Dublin

Website | Phone: 01 6010300

Tallaght University Hospital, Tallaght, Dublin 24

Website | Phone: 01 4142000


Bon Secours Hospital, College Rd, Cork

Website | Phone: 021 4801715

Mercy University Hospital, Pulmonary Function and Sleep Lab, Cork

Website | Phone: 021 4271971

Cork University Hospital, Wilton, Cork,

Website | Phone: 021 4922000

Mallow General Hospital, Mallow, Co. Cork

Website | Phone: 022 30300


Bon Secours Health System, Renmore, Co. Galway

Website | Phone: 091 381900

Galway Clinic, Doughiska, Galway

Website | Phone: 091 785000

Merlin Park University Hospital, EC5., Old Dublin Rd, Galway

Website | Phone: 091 544544


University Hospital Limerick, St Nessan’s Rd, Dooradoyle, Co. Limerick

Website | Phone: 061 301111


Aut Even Private Hospital, Freshford Road, Kilkenny, Co. Kilkenny.

Website | Phone: 056 7775279


Cavan General Hospital, Respiratory Department, 2 R212, Lisdaran, Cavan

Website | Phone: 049 4376000


Mid-Western Regional Hospital, Ennis, Gort Rd, Lifford, Ennis, Co. Clare

Website | Phone: 065 6824464


Naas General Hospital, Pulmonary Function Laboratory, Naas, Co. Kildare

Website | Phone: 045 849500


Bon Secours Health System, Strand Street, Tralee, Co. Kerry

Website | Phone: 066 714 9800


Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda, Co. Louth

Website | Phone: 041 9837601


Roscommon University Hospital, Athlone Rd, Ardsallagh More, Roscommon

Website | Phone: 090 6626200


Kingsbridge Private Hospital, Ray MacSharry Road, Gardenhill, Sligo, Co. Sligo

Website | Phone: 071 9162649


Mid-Western Regional Hospital, Nenagh, Co. Tipperary

Website | Phone: 067 31491


Waterford Regional Hospital, Sleep Clinic, Old School of Nursing, Waterford

Website | Phone: 051 848834


St. Francis Private Hospital, Ballinderry Mullingar Co. Westmeath

Website | Phone: 044 9385300

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