What is the best way to manage sleep apnea when traveling to high altitude? A study published in the December 12, 2012, issue of JAMA reports treatments to minimize the risk of altitude-related illness for patients with sleep apnea. At altitude, the reduced oxygen content of the blood induces breathing instability, with periods of deep and rapid breathing alternating with central apnea. This breathing pattern is called high-altitude periodic breathing. It occurs even in healthy persons at altitudes above 6000 ft. It may lead to sleep disturbances with frequent awakenings and a feeling of lack of air.