Central sleep apnea is less common than obstructive sleep apnea.
Central sleep apnea occurs when the brain fails to send signals to muscles responsible for breathing. This leads to a lack of respiratory effort and consequently no airflow. This condition differentiates itself from obstructive sleep apnea; where respiratory efforts are present, but breathing is impaired due to obstruction of the upper airway.
Central sleep apnea may occur as a result of other conditions such as congestive heart failure, hypothyroidism and kidney failure. It may also be associated to neurological disorders like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, ALS and Lou Gehrig’s disease, encephalitis-induced brainstem damage, stroke, trauma, and more. Sleeping at a high altitudes may also cause central sleep apnea. Treatments include managing existing conditions, using a device to assist breathing or oxygen supplementation.
Nonetheless, this is a rare form of sleep apnea.