Five Signs That You May Have Sleep Apnea

Nothing on this website is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. The contents of this website are for informational purposes only.

If you’re struggling to sleep properly and feeling fatigued, and aren’t sure why, it’s worth considering if it’s sleep apnea. Sleep apnea (also spelled apnoea) is a surprisingly common issue that isn’t that well-known but has quite a large impact. It’s a chronic condition that disrupts your sleep and can exacerbate existing anxiety, even causing panic attacks. There are a few different types, but the most common is known as obstructive sleep apnea.

This is where the airway either gets blocked or collapses during your sleep. There’s also central sleep apnea, which is where your brain simply forgets to send the right signals – it’s literally forgetting to breathe for a while whilst you’re asleep. Both of these can highly increase your risk of arrhythmia, heart conditions, strokes, and other problems, so it’s definitely worth catching early. Here are some common signs and symptoms (both for men & women) that you might have sleep apnea. This article isn’t meant to be a self-test – please consult your doctor if you think you have sleep apnoea.

Dry Mouth Upon Waking

Do you often wake up needing to desperately drink some water? This can be caused by sleeping with your mouth open. There are lots of reasons that you might do this, but one of them is if you’re having trouble getting enough air and end up breathing through your mouth to compensate.

Headaches and Excessive Tiredness

If you don’t recall waking during the night, but still wake up with a pounding headache, you’re probably not sleeping as well as you think. A recurrent morning headache is a sign that something is wrong with your sleeping patterns – it likely means you’re not getting enough ‘deep sleep’ to satisfy you, instead of remaining in or being jolted back to a more shallow, less restful form of rest. Similarly, feeling tired (hypersomnia) the day can have a similar cause.

women with a headache from sleep apnea

Painful Jaw & Teeth

You might find that you wake up with a sore jaw and sensitive teeth. If so, this can be a symptom of a few things – a common one is stress or grinding during the night – but when combined with a few others on this list, it might be sleep apnoea. It happens when you’re trying to get enough air and straining the muscles to do so.

Loud Snoring

snoring is one of the symptoms

Unless you’ve manage to wake yourself up snoring, it’s more likely a partner or friend has told you this. Sometimes snoring is just snoring, but frequent, loud snoring is often a sign of obstructive sleep apnoea. If you only snore in certain situations – when you’ve got a cold, if you’re drunk or have hay fever – then you’re probably fine, but if it’s near constant, then you may want to get it looked at.

Waking Up Gasping

This is one of the most obvious symptoms and one that causes anxiety in many people. If you find yourself waking up choking or gasping for air, you definitely should go to a doctor as soon as possible. This happens when you haven’t been able to breathe enough, and means you aren’t getting enough oxygen – something that can have severe long term effects.

Thankfully, if you’ve noticed these symptoms, you’ve got time to prevent/treat it. The top ways to prevent it include quitting smoking, avoiding alcohol, sleeping pills and sedatives, and avoiding caffeine and heavy meals within two hours of going to bed. Additionally, exercising regularly and losing weight can reduce the chances of obstruction, and practicing breathing exercises can strengthen the muscles in your airway. Try to sleep on your side whilst elevating your head slightly in order to reduce the chances of obstruction.

If it’s bad enough that you feel you need treatment, talk to a doctor and don’t let the stress build up – options include breathing or dental devices, masks (machines), and surgery. But these are usually recommended after trying other less extreme methods.

Author: Mark Reddick

When I’m not learning about sleep, you can find me hanging out with my wife and close friends.

I absolutely love entrepreneurship and learning how to improve yourself daily. We only get one life, and I want to make it the best one possible.

I hope that everyone that finds our site takes a new approach to sleep. The world needs to stop thinking about it as something “we just do,” but rather something that allows us “to do every day.”

5 Comments
  1. Reply
    Douglas November 24, 2017 at 3:03 am

    Very nice blog. I didn`t know about my condition until I read this blog and realized what is happening to me. I think this condition is happening with lots of people and what we need to do is read this blog and act accordingly, so we will not have any problem or will not make the life of others problematic

  2. Reply
    Tracy April 20, 2018 at 10:35 am

    I think this is what I have and so does my poor suffering husband but I’m scared to go to the doctors about it because last time I same the nurse she made me feel awful about my weight, I am morbidly obese. I know this is probably one of the reasons for me suffering from sleep apnea but just really struggling to get the weight off and keep it off. Is sleep apnea so dangerous that I shouldn’t put off seeing the doctor or what?

    • Reply
      Jill April 27, 2018 at 9:05 am

      Yes Tracy, Sleep Apnea will eventually weaken and damage the heart if not properly treated with a nightly C-Pap machine. You simply wear a breathing mask while you sleep. Not only does this breathing device provide continuous airflow, but also monitors your sleeping levels so your Pulmonary doctor can track and adjust the settings on the device if needed.
      Please seek immediate professional medical help. Unfortunately my Father wasn’t compliant to using his C-Pap machine as directed for several short years and developed heart failure resulting in needing a heart pacemaker recently. He now has to live a struggling road ahead with this as well as heart disease.
      Please do not let the insensitive and unprofessional remark from the nurse prevent you from taking positive charge in yours and your husbands lives. You have patient rights to speak up and deservingly report this to your doctor. No one deserves to be humiliated, especially from a trusted medical personnel. You stay strong and please never let your weight struggles keep you from seeking medical attention to improve your quality of life.
      Please contact your medical doctor ASAP. Stay strong, you can do it Tracy!

  3. Reply
    Matt April 29, 2018 at 7:02 am

    Tracy,

    You should see a doctor about getting a sleep test sooner rather than later. Sleep apnea can be the cause of a host of issues, including high blood pressure and weight gain. Poor sleep also puts a lot of strain on your heart that can eventually cause atrial fibrillation and heart failure.

    It is unfortunate how your medical provider made you feel. But getting treatment for your sleep disorder as soon as you can will help you to live a long, healthy life.

  4. Reply
    Amanda Drew June 6, 2018 at 7:13 pm

    Thanks for pointing out that frequent and loud snoring can be a sign of sleep apnea. My husband has this problem, and no matter what position he sleeps in, he is always snoring. I should probably find someone who could let us know if he has sleep apnea and can get us an appliance to help him with it.

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