There is an epidemic in this country which is just now entering our collective consciousness. This epidemic is as common as diabetes and asthma, but nearly as high profile. This disease is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA).
What is OSA?
In short, it is a closure of the breathing passage when we sleep. Generally is occurs in heavy snorers, and when the muscles in the neck relax, the tonsilar tissues and tongue collapse against the back of the throat. The patient then gasps to unblock the airway.
When the airway is obstructed, the CO2 gets trapped in our lungs and the oxygen levels in our blood drop. This triggers our brain, which thinks it is being poisoned, to active the muscles of the neck and throat to free up the obstruction.