Apnea is Greek for “no breathing.” There are two major reasons for apnea to occur during sleep. One is mechanical, where the tissues of the throat or palate lack normal tone and close off air passages due to the effects of gravity. Here, the best treatment available appears to be that offered by sleep clinics – jaw appliances, CPAP machines, etc.
The much more common cause of sleep apnea is abnormal activity at the respiratory reflex center in the medulla oblongata, which is situated at the very top end of the spinal cord. This is the site of nerve receptors that read your blood gases and tell you to breathe in and breathe out. If they are not functioning smoothly, you will occasionally “forget” to breathe. While medical treatment for this is the same as for mechanical apnea, we have had great success resolving the problem with chiropractic treatment and qi gong-based deep soft tissue release techniques. This often requires only one treatment.