Sleep apnea is a type of sleep disorder that affects your breathing while you’re trying to sleep. People may stop breathing multiple times during the night, which causes them to wake up feeling exhausted as if they haven’t slept at all. If you believe that you have a sleep problem, watch for typical sleep apnea symptoms and other signs that you’re not sleeping well, then schedule a sleep disorder test.
Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type of this disorder. It occurs when there’s a partial or complete blockage of the airway, which happens when your throat muscles relax and close off your air supply. Central sleep apnea is another type, which occurs when your brain doesn’t transmit signals that tell the muscles that control your breathing to do their job. Complex sleep apnea also called mixed sleep apnea, occurs in people who experience episodes of both obstructive and central sleep apnea.
Frequent loud snoring is usually the most common sign of sleep apnea; however, not everyone who snores has sleep apnea. If you’re snoring is combined with pauses in breathing or waking up gasping or choking, it’s more likely to be a sign of sleep apnea. Throughout the night, a person with sleep apnea may snore off and on, but it’s usually loud enough to wake someone sleeping nearby. If you’re snoring is disturbing others, examine your sleep patterns to determine whether you’re exhibiting other sleep apnea symptoms.
The most telling signs of sleep apnea are to wake up suddenly gasping for breath, or with a choking sensation and silent breathing pauses that cause your body to jerk. This jerking is your body’s way of waking you up to breathe, but you may not fully wake up or remember the episode. Decreased or a total lack of breathing is called apnea events. If you share your bed with someone, they may notice these events before you do.
Feeling sleepy during the day can occur anytime you don’t get a good night’s sleep, but when you feel tired throughout the day, no matter how much sleep you get, there’s usually an underlying reason. Excessive daytime sleepiness and fatigue are common sleep apnea symptoms. When you’re not getting enough quality sleep, you might doze off during the day or even fall asleep while driving, which is an extremely dangerous outcome of sleeping poorly.
Changes in your mood and cognition can manifest in numerous ways and could be symptoms of sleep apnea, which can cause a range of mental and emotional symptoms since your body isn’t getting the restorative sleep it needs. Multiple sleep disruptions can lead to a shorter attention span, forgetfulness due to reduced short-term memory recall, difficulties concentrating, impaired learning ability, and mood changes, such as anxiety, irritability, and depression.
Without adequate sleep, other areas of your brain can also be affected, such as those that control judgment, physical reflexes, and fine motor skills. This can affect everything from complex actions, such as driving a vehicle and operating equipment, to simple tasks, e.g. writing and typing.
Waking up numerous times during the night to go to the bathroom, sexual dysfunction or decreased libido, and waking up in the morning with a headache, dry mouth, and throat, or severely sore throat can all be physical manifestations of sleep apnea. Weight gain can be another symptom, but it can be part of the cause and/or the effect. Not everyone who is overweight has sleep apnea, but being overweight can increase your risk. It can also cause you to gain weight and makes it difficult to lose weight, which only worsens your sleep apnea.
Left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to serious health issues, including high blood pressure, heart disease, heart attack, heart failure, stroke, and diabetes. Don’t let sleep apnea impact your well-being and make it difficult to perform essential tasks.
The sleep specialists at Respacare in Bridgewater, New Jersey, offer thorough sleep studies to accurately diagnose sleep apnea. Our team of board-certified physicians record respiratory function and track sleep duration with sleep disorder tests designed for home use. Once a diagnosis is reached, your sleep doctor works with you to determine an effective treatment. Contact us at 732-356-9950 to discuss your sleep apnea symptoms and other sleep-related concerns today.