We have extensive experience in caring for patients with sleep apnoea and care for over 7,000 patients who use continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy at home.

Around four per cent of men and two per cent of women suffer from sleep apnoea. Many are undiagnosed and there are limited sleep laboratory facilities in the UK, so there is much work to be done.

Sleep apnoea is caused by upper airway collapse during sleep; patients literally stop breathing, although for such a short amount of time that they don’t usually wake up. The poor quality of sleep experienced then puts them at risk the following day; unaware that they have had so little undisturbed sleep, they drive, operate machinery and conduct various other activities under conditions of near sleep deprivation.

At the Royal Brompton Centre for Sleep, the team uses the latest equipment and can monitor progress remotely using smart cards in the devices, which is more convenient and reduces hospital visits.

CPAP quickly reverses the effects of obstructive sleep apnoea, so that sleep quality improves, daytime energy levels increase and adverse health consequences are minimised.

Our service is fully comprehensive for NHS and private patients who are provided with long-term telephone and email access to the team for:

  • ongoing advice

  • rapid response clinic appointments

  • servicing and repair of equipment

Poor quality of sleep

Erratic breathing is also associated with swings in blood pressure and heart rate, which may contribute to heart disease, stroke and metabolic conditions, such as diabetes. It is often the partners of patients who notice the problem first.

Loud snoring is usually present in sleep apnoea and, in addition to the obvious disturbance that this can cause, partners are often aware of short breaks in snoring when breathing appears to stop (apnoeas).

The good news is that we can treat the condition effectively. Initially, a sleep study takes place – a patient spends the night in our sleep laboratory at Royal Brompton or Harefield hospitals, or takes one of our portable sleep study monitors home.

By tracking breathing throughout the night, we are able to diagnose the problem simply and quickly. One of the most frequently used and successful treatment methods for moderate and severe sleep apnoea is CPAP."

Help for patients at home

One of the other major areas of work undertaken at Royal Brompton Hospital is domiciliary ventilation; we are the largest European centre providing this service and take referrals from right across the country.

For adults and children with neuromuscular and chest wall conditions such as muscular dystrophy and curvature of the spine, the outlook was bleak until relatively recently. Non-invasive ventilation using small portable ventilators at night, extends survival, reduces hospital admissions and improves quality of life.

Even in common disorders such as chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD), non-invasive ventilation can be used to improve the outcome from acute infections. 

We are currently exploring new types of ventilator which may be easier to use for patients with problems such as motor neurone disease.

Sleep study for adults

A sleep study helps us check for sleep problems or problems breathing at night. The sleep study is a painless test that involves monitoring a number of different body functions overnight.

Sleep study for children

A sleep study helps us check for sleep problems or problems breathing at night. The sleep study is a painless test that involves monitoring a number of different body functions overnight.

Domiciliary ventilation

At Royal Brompton Hospital, we pioneered the use of non-invasive ventilation in adults and children with nocturnal hypoventilation, and have over 1,600 adults and children using small portable...

Patient information

Referral for Management of Chronic Respiratory Failure at Royal Brompton Hospital (pdf, 24KB)

Sleep-disordered breathing – information films


Sleep-disordered breathing is diagnosed using a combination of clinical history, examination and diagnostic tests carried out before and during sleep. 

This video gives an overview of the diagnosis process at Royal Brompton Hospital's Centre for Sleep.


The treatment of sleep disordered breathing depends on severity, symptoms and comorbidities. This film demonstrates how you can make lifestyle changes to relieve symptoms and gives an overview of medical interventions.