• Home
  • Blog
  • How Many Apneas per Hour is Sleep Apnea?

How Many Apneas per Hour is Sleep Apnea?

Awakening abruptly at night, struggling to catch your breath, or persistently battling daytime fatigue despite ample rest could be indicative of sleep apnea. This sleep disorder is marked by intermittent cessation of breath while slumbering. But what constitutes sleep apnea in terms of apneas per hour? Delve into the nuances as we illuminate this crucial query.

The Apnea-Hypopnea Index (AHI)

The apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) is a crucial metric used to diagnose and classify the severity of sleep apnea. It represents the combined average number of apneas and hypopneas that occur per hour of sleep. Apneas are complete pauses in breathing that last for at least 10 seconds, while hypopneas are partial reductions in airflow accompanied by a decrease in oxygen levels. By calculating the AHI, sleep specialists can determine the severity of a person’s sleep apnea.

According to the guidelines provided by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), sleep apnea is categorized into three severity levels based on the AHI: mild, moderate, and severe (1). Let’s explore these classifications further:

Mild Sleep Apnea (5-15 events/hour)

If your AHI falls between 5 and 15 events per hour of sleep, you would be diagnosed with mild sleep apnea. This means that on average, you experience 5 to 15 episodes of apneas or hypopneas every hour you spend in slumber. While this may not sound like a large number, these interruptions in breathing can still disrupt your sleep patterns and result in symptoms such as daytime fatigue, poor concentration, and morning headaches.

Moderate Sleep Apnea (15-30 events/hour)

For individuals with an AHI ranging from 15 to 30 events per hour, a diagnosis of moderate sleep apnea would be appropriate. This indicates that you experience a higher frequency of apneas and hypopneas during your sleep, with an average of 15 to 30 episodes occurring each hour. Moderate sleep apnea is likely to have a more noticeable impact on your daily life, as the disruptions in breathing become more frequent and may further impair the quality of your sleep.

Severe Sleep Apnea (> 30 events/hour)

When the AHI surpasses 30 events per hour, it is classified as severe sleep apnea. At this level, your sleep is heavily fragmented, with frequent and prolonged pauses in breathing throughout the night. Severe sleep apnea can significantly impact your overall well-being, leading to severe daytime sleepiness, increased risk of cardiovascular issues, and other health complications. It is crucial to seek medical attention and explore treatment options if you fall into this category.

Seeking Diagnosis and Treatment

If you suspect that you may have sleep apnea or are concerned about your sleep quality, it is essential to consult a healthcare professional. Sleep apnea is a serious condition that should not be taken lightly, as it can have significant implications for your health and well-being.

A sleep study, typically conducted in a sleep laboratory or through home sleep testing, is commonly used to diagnose sleep apnea and determine the severity based on the AHI. This comprehensive assessment involves monitoring various physiological parameters during sleep, including breathing patterns, oxygen levels, brain waves, and heart rate.

Once diagnosed, there are several treatment options available to manage sleep apnea. Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy, which involves wearing a mask during sleep that delivers a constant flow of air to keep the airways open, is one of the most effective treatments. Other alternatives include oral appliances, positional therapy, lifestyle modifications, and in some cases, surgery.

The Importance of Addressing Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a condition that should not be ignored or left untreated. It can significantly impact your quality of life, increase the risk of accidents due to daytime sleepiness, and contribute to a range of health problems, including hypertension, heart disease, and diabetes.

By seeking diagnosis and appropriate treatment, you can effectively manage sleep apnea and improve your overall well-being. Better sleep quality can enhance your energy levels, concentration, mood, and productivity throughout the day, allowing you to lead a healthier and more fulfilling life.

If you suspect that you or someone you know may have sleep apnea, take the first step towards better sleep and consult a healthcare professional. Remember, addressing sleep apnea can make a world of difference in your life.


(1) American Academy of Sleep Medicine. (n.d.). Sleep Apnea. Retrieved from [insert URL here]

Take control of your sleep and prioritize your health. By understanding how many apneas per hour constitute sleep apnea and seeking proper diagnosis and treatment, you can make a positive change in your life. Don’t let sleep apnea hold you back; take the first step towards better sleep today!