Nearly 22 million people suffer from sleep apnea. The average adult needs about 7-9 hours of sleep. Do you find yourself extra tired even with the recommended amount of sleep and worried if you may have a sleeping problem?
Think that you may have sleep apnea? Discover the sleep apnea symptoms and signs to look for so that you can obtain the necessary treatment ASAP.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
Central sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder where your breathing will stop and restart multiple times while you are asleep. This happens when your brain doesn’t communicate properly with your muscles to control breathing while you sleep. Central sleep apnea is less common than obstructive sleep apnea.
Obstructive sleep apnea happens when muscles at the back of the throat relax too much that your airway narrows or sometimes even closes completely. This obstruction to your breathing happens for about 10 to 20 seconds. It can lower your blood’s oxygen level.
Sleep Apnea Symptoms
Because these breathing pauses happen at night, it’s hard to monitor your breathing. It’s easy for this condition to go unnoticed. Here are some symptoms to check for if you think you have sleep apnea.
1. Morning Headaches
Most sleep apnea sufferers report waking up with headaches. Because you stop breathing in the night, your brain gets less oxygen. The lack of oxygen causes your blood vessels to widen, giving you a headache.
2. Extreme Daytime Fatigue
With all the interruptions and pauses in your sleep, you are not getting quality rest even if you sleep the recommended amount. One of the other main symptoms of sleep apnea is excessive daytime sleepiness which causes a person to have overwhelming daytime fatigue.
Other symptoms of extreme daytime fatigue include lack of energy, difficulty concentrating, taking frequent naps, excessive tiredness all day, and dozing off at odd times. This can lead to serious problems especially when driving or operating heavy equipment.
3. Excessive Snoring
The partial blocking or obstruction causes a person to snore frequently with sleep apnea. The sound of snoring is produced by upper respiratory vibrations during sleep. The blockage or obstruction restricts the air and can cause more vibrations.
Many people don’t even know they snore until someone tells them. Just because you snore, doesn’t mean you have sleep apnea. If your snoring occurs on a nightly basis and is loud, it could be a sign of sleep apnea.
4. High Blood Pressure
You can get high blood pressure from sleep apnea just like you get headaches. This is due to the lower oxygen levels. The brain sends signals to the rest of the body that it doesn’t have enough oxygen, so this spikes your blood pressure because your blood vessels are restricted to get the system moving.
If your body restricts breathing throughout the night, your body gets accustomed to restricting the blood vessels. This will cause high blood pressure even when you are breathing normally during the day.
5. Mood Swings
Your mood can be impacted by lack of sleep. You may become more anxious or short-tempered. You may even become depressed without enough quality sleep.
You may also find it hard to concentrate throughout the day. Your libido may also decrease.
6. Pauses in Breathing
When you wake up, do you feel like you are gasping for air? This can be a sign that you have sleep apnea.
Because your breathing regularly stops, you may wake up abruptly and experience shortness of breath. This shortness of breath is typically relieved when you sit up.
7. Dry Mouth When You Wake Up
Sleep apnea sufferers may wake up with a dry mouth or sore throat. This is caused by a lack of saliva from breathing (and snoring) through the mouth.
Risk Factors for Sleep Apnea
There are some risk factors that put you at a greater risk to have sleep apnea. Males are more likely to develop sleep apnea.
People that are overweight also have a greater risk of sleep apnea. If you have a large neck circumference, that could also put you at risk. Alcohol and sedatives also increase the chances of sleep apnea.
Treating Sleep Apnea
If you think you have sleep apnea, you should discuss with your doctor. He or she can do a sleep apnea test to determine any blockages or obstructions in your airway while you sleep.
There are a lot of ways to treat sleep apnea including making lifestyle changes. Your doctor will most likely want you to exercise and lose weight if you are overweight. You should also avoid relaxing medications and alcohol that can relax those throat muscles.
Try sleeping in a different position. It is better to sleep on your side instead of your stomach or back.
Your doctor may also recommend a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine to help keep your airways open. You will need to wear a mask while you sleep to pump air in your airways.
Another treatment option is an oral appliance. This device will help keep your throat and airways open as you sleep.
If these treatments do not work, you may need surgery. These surgeries include:
- Nerve stimulation
- Jaw repositioning
- Tissue shrinkage
- Tissue removal
It’s best to talk to your doctor if you experience any of the sleep apnea symptoms. You can also try lifestyle changes to see if it helps. Your doctor will most likely want to do a sleep evaluation to determine your blood levels and brain activity.
It’s best to get treatment and go through testing even if it seems daunting. Sleep apnea can lead to bigger health risks such as heart attack, stroke, and dementia. The lack of sleep can also create extreme fatigue that could hinder your driving and work.
Ready for a Better Night’s Sleep?
Don’t let your body suffer if you have any of these sleep apnea symptoms. Talk to your doctor about the best options. You may just need a few minor changes to your lifestyle to get the rest you need.
Looking for other ways to get a good night’s sleep? Check out our other articles for tips on getting restful sleep.