These are defined as a cessation of airflow for 10 or more seconds, although this is in practice usually taken as a reduction in airflow by more than 80% from the previous stable baseline. The duration of 10 s has been widely used, but it has no physiological basis, and in children, in particular, briefer apnoeas appear to be significant.
In central apnoeas there is no detectable chest wall muscle activity on respiratory movement or respiratory muscle activity monitoring. In obstructive sleep apnoeas chest wall movement occurs, as detected by the movement monitors and signs of respiratory muscle effort, but the upper airway obstruction prevents any airflow from occurring. In mixed sleep apnoeas there is an initial central phase followed by upper airway obstruction before arousal occurs.
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