Julian Parra knew something wasn’t right when he began waking up several times a night gasping for air. He also noticed that he felt unusually tired and sleepy at work.

Parra, 39, suspected he might have sleep apnea because his dad has it and he is familiar with the symptoms. But what he didn’t realize is that sleep apnea—when breathing briefly stops during sleep-- can disrupt more than just a good night’s sleep. 

“Undiagnosed or untreated sleep apnea can lead to serious long-term health problems overtime such as heart disease, stroke and even dementia,” said Dr. Nancy Behrens , sleep medicine specialist at Novant Health Sleep.    

After getting the results of an in-laboratory sleep study, Parra learned that he indeed suffers from obstructive sleep apnea. “I look forward to using a CPAP machine because I know what a difference it has made in my dad’s life.” 

But what exactly does it mean to stop breathing – oftentimes hundreds of time a night?  Learn more in this short video.      5.

Understanding sleep apnea from Novant Health Healthy Headlines on Vimeo .