Has your partner ever poked you in the ribs and complained that you were snoring just way too loud or have they told you on multiple occasions that you weren’t breathing while you were sleeping? Have you ever woken up gasping for air or found yourself exhausted in the morning with no idea exactly why?
These could all be signs of sleep apnea.
There Are Three Types
If you are worried that you might have this condition, you are not alone. The condition is surprisingly common and affects sleepers of all shapes, sizes, ages, and genders around the world.
While this condition can, and does, affect people from walks of life, it is typically diagnosed in men. However, there are some specific demographics who should keep the disorder in mind and talk to a doctor if they find themselves experiencing symptoms.
15 percent of children experience breathing difficulties due to a sleeping disorder. Only 10 percent are likely to have a diagnosis and treatment. Many of these disorders are mischaracterized as emotional or psychological issues in young children.
At this point, you may be thinking, “What’s the big deal if my possible sleep apnea isn’t diagnosed?” A lot of people think it boils down to some loud and gnarly snoring and not much else. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Along with general sleep deprivation and the health complications that this can cause, untreated sleep apnea may prove to be fatal. A recent study indicated the risk of death to have increased threefold in patients with this disorder. Eliminating patients who treat their sleep apnea with CPAP therapy raised the risk by 4.3.
There are a few key symptoms that most people know they should be looking for when they are trying to determine whether or not to talk to a doctor about whether their snoring is a sign of something more dangerous. Waking up gasping for breath, unusually loud snoring, and pauses or gaps between breathing can all be signs of the disorder.
Other, less-known symptoms people may not be aware of can include headaches and depression — especially in women. More frequent trips to the bathroom, heartburn, and changes in dreams (either frequency or content) may also be signs of an undiagnosed affliction.
There are a few extra symptoms to pay attention to when determining if a child may have the disorder, as well. Jaw-clenching, teeth-grinding, frequent bed-wetting, migraines, and irritability may be present if the condition is left untreated. Because they are not receiving the proper amount of adequate rest, children with this disorder may appear unfocused or hyperactive during the daytime.
Learn More: Sleep Related Breathing Disorder
Always talk to a doctor if you think you or someone you know may be showing symptoms of sleep apnea or another sleeping disorder.
It may be possible to train the mouth and throat to snore less through specifically designed exercises that strengthen the jaw, back of the throat, or soft palate. Benefits may not be immediately apparent, however. Some sleepers may see improvement up to three months after beginning a routine of frequent tongue, throat, and mouth exercises.
FUN FACT: Learning to play the didgeridoo could help strengthen the upper airways!
Soft Palate Blowing
Breathe in through the nose, close your mouth and push air through the lips without opening them. You should feel resistance in the back of the throat. The exercise is intended to strengthen the palate. 
According to the Mayo Clinic, if these simple fixes don’t the trick, a continuous positive airway pressure device, or CPAP machine, may be used to improve air pressure. Other styles of air pressure machines or oral appliances that position the mouth and throat in such a way as to allow airflow may also be considered as treatment options.
In some cases, surgery may be a necessity. Tissue that blocks airflow may be removed or reduced. Removal of the tonsils, repositioning of the jaw, and tracheostomy are examples of the more invasive methods used to treat the condition.
It is very important to be checked out by a doctor if you suspect you have sleep apnea or another sleeping disorder.
Some people may be embarrassed to admit to their medical professional that they snore. Others might consider a few sleepless nights to be a mere inconvenience and ignore the symptoms, not realizing the dangers that could be involved. Treatment is the key to higher-quality rest and better overall health.
Don’t ignore your snoring!