Hypopnea is a medical term for a disorder which involves episodes of overly shallow breathing or an abnormally low respiratory rate. Hypopnea is less severe than apnea (which is a more complete loss of airflow). It may likewise result in a decreased amount of air movement into the lungs and can cause oxygen levels in the blood to drop. It more commonly is due to partial obstruction of the upper airway.
During sleep, hypopnea is classed as a sleep disorder. With moderate to severe hypopnea, sleep is disturbed such that patients may get a full night's sleep but still not feel rested because they did not get the right kind of sleep. The disruption in breathing causes a drop in blood oxygen level, which may in turn disrupt the stages of sleep.
Daytime hypopnea events are mostly limited to those with severely compromised respiratory muscles, as occurs in certain neuromuscular diseases. Similarly, daytime hypopnea can also cause a drop in blood oxygen level. Source: Wikipedia
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