Dr. Douglas Dedo, MD

What Are the Most Common Sleep Apnea Symptoms?

what is a cpap

Sleep apnea, a potentially serious disorder where breathing stops and starts repeatedly during sleep, affects roughly 22 million Americans.  It impacts people of all ages, and it can even occur during pregnancy.

While this condition is often associated with loud snoring, there are several other factors and symptoms that may surprise you. Read on to learn more about sleep apnea and how it may be affecting your life:

Things That Go “ZZZZ” in the Night: What Sleep Apnea Looks Like at Night

Of course, sleep apnea makes for a less-than-stellar night of sleep. But what are the symptoms of sleep apnea? They include:

  • SnoringLoud snoring that persists through the night, even when you aren’t experiencing congestion from a cold.
  • Choking or gasping for air – Taking sudden, gaspy breaths or making sounds like choking/trying to clear the airway.
  • Pauses in breathing – Like many of these symptoms, this would be noted by another person observing. Pauses can last from several seconds to a minute or more.
  • Restlessness – Tossing and turning usually occurs in lighter sleep stages. Excessive restlessness can be a sign your body is trying to find a position that allows you to breathe freely – as well as a sign that your brain isn’t settled into deeper, restorative sleep.
  • Waking to urinate – Fragmented sleep from apnea prevents the release of an anti-diuretic hormone that stops you from getting up to pee in the night.
  • Teeth grindingGrinding teeth may be caused by the body as a subconscious attempt to stabilize the muscles that keep the airway open.

Surprising Daytime Effects: What Sleep Apnea Can Do To Your Day

Naturally, a bad night of sleep spills over to impact your day. Here are a few of the ways sleep apnea might impact your waking hours.

  • Waking with a headache – Muscle strain from attempting to clear or keep the airway open along with repeated periods of oxygen deprivation can cause a headache that fades as the morning progresses.
  • “Brain fog” – Unable to concentrate or think clearly, can be serious enough to cause driving and on-the-job accidents.
  • Irritability – Low quality sleep can leave you extra grouchy due to a lack of time in restorative sleep stages
  • Depression – In the same vein as irritability, many people that experience depression may also have sleep apnea. Proper sleep releases chemicals that remove toxins and solidify neural pathways. Without this “cleanup” process we can experience depression, anxiety, and irritability.
  • High blood pressure – Sudden drops in blood pressure during sleep apnea put a strain on your cardiovascular system, increasing blood pressure as the body attempts to compensate.

Needless to say, these are signs that you shouldn’t ignore. The good news is that sleep apnea is treatable. If you feel you may have sleep apnea, have questions about sleep apnea, and are looking for relief, make an appointment with Dr. Dedo for a consultation today.