Apnea vs Hypopnea Events Per Hour Explained

Last updated: February 20, 2020

Sleep. We spend a third of our entire lives sleeping. Yet it's possible your sleep is hurting your health due to sleep apnea. This article will explain the difference between sleep apnea and hypopnea, along with adverse events per hour that disrupt your sleep and your life. Sleep apnea and hypopnea are treatable, but first it's best to know what they are and how they affect you. This article will explain an apnea vs hyponea and what events per hour are.


What Is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder where your breathing is affected while you are sleeping. It is the simplified term that explains several different events. An apneic event is when your airway is completely cutoff from air. As you can expect, our bodies do not like this and will try to fix it. Our autonomic nervous system controls breathing and can sense when you're having an apneic event because of lowered oxygen levels, and you will be forced to gasp for air.

You may not notice sleep apnea symptoms or the signs of sleep apnea at first, because it can be a chronic condition. You may first be alerted to your sleep apnea years after having it, due to the careful observations of your spouse. If you ever suspect you might have this sleep disorder, you should consult your doctor. After all, a healthier sleep leads to a healthier lifestyle.​

What is Hypopnea?

​As previously mentioned, an apnea is the complete blocking of your airway. A hypopnea is when your airway is partially blocked, which causes shallow breathing. Your body will try its hardest to keep getting enough oxygen, but eventually the lowered amount of oxygen will trigger a hypopneic event.

Signs of Hypopnea

Hypopnea is a more specific feature of sleep apnea and has some unique​ signs:

  • Extremely loud snoring
  • Making strange noises in your sleep (caused by your body fighting the shallow breathing)
  • Obesity and weight gain (100+ pounds)
  • Higher level of events for back sleepers

Apnea vs Hypopnea

Hypopnea is slightly different from sleep apnea in description, and it can be confusing when first hearing about them. However, there is a distinction. Sleep apnea refers to obstructions in breathing, where your throat and airway are blocked. There is no breathing in and out in this scenario. Hypopnea refers to obstructions in breathing where your throat and airway are partially blocked. If you have hypopnea, your airway may even alternate in position between blocked and partially blocked as you sleep.​

Apnea Vs Hypopnea

What are Sleep Events Per Hour?

​“Sleep events per hour” refers to a simple way to measure the severity of sleep apnea or hypopnea. The official name of the apnea scale is the Apnea Hypopnea Index (also known as AHI.) You can get your sleep events per hour measured at a sleep clinic where trained professional staff will connect you to a variety of machines and record your sleep events while you sleep. They record various things about you such as your brain waves, heart rate, breathing, and the oxygen level in your blood. The Cleveland Clinic has a good article on how sleep events are detected.

Apnea Hypopnea Index (AHI)

There are several degrees of sleep events per hour measured on the Apnea Hypopnea Index that can tell you how severe your sleep apnea is:

  • Minimal - Less than 5 events per hour
  • Mild - 5 to 15 events per hour
  • Moderate - 15 to 30 events per hour
  • Severe - 30+ events per hour
  • GET A CPAP NOW - 100+ events per hour (I came in at 104 events per hour during my sleep study)

How To Stop Sleep Apnea​

​You may be concerned if you think you have moderate to severe sleep apnea, but there is no need to worry. With proper medical guidance, you can treat your condition and become healthier as a result. The Mayo Clinic advises that you lose excess weight, exercise, avoid things that relax your throat muscles like alcohol or sleeping pills, use a saline nasal spray before going to bed, and stop smoking. Even doing just one of these things can result in less severe sleep apnea.

For more severe cases of sleep apnea, you will want to use a CPAP machine.​

These lifestyle changes will not occur overnight, and it may take you weeks or months before you see a difference; however, that shouldn't stop you from making these lifestyle changes immediately. Any of these changes will make you healthier, and you will enjoy better sleep as a result. For the most relevant information regarding these sleep disorders, or to learn more about how to manage their effects, check out some of our other relevant blog posts.​

Other products that can help you treat sleep apnea include chin straps.​

Why Don't I Remember Waking Up During An Event?​

During a sleep apnea event, your body might "wake up" from the deep levels of sleep required to feel rested, but doesn't wake you up to a conscious level typically.​

Hopefully, after reading this article, you now know the difference between apnea vs hypopnea. If you have any questions about some of the terminology, be sure to leave a comment.

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