How To Know If You Have Sleep Apnea

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How To Know If You Have Sleep Apnea

Snoring loud enough to wake your partner, needing an extra couple of coffee to get through the work day, having trouble focusing on the tasks you need to complete – these problems are so commonplace that people usually do not give them a second thought, or might even make jokes about them. In many cases, these problems can be a sign of an underlying disorder: sleep apnea.

This condition is quite common, but often goes undiagnosed and untreated. To determine if you might have sleep apnea, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you often snore loudly?
  • Have you ever woken up because you have made a gasping, choking, or snorting sound?

The most common form of sleep apnea is obstructive. This means that airways are blocked for periods of time as you sleep. This is more common among people who are overweight, but airways can have trouble staying open if you drink alcohol, smoke, or take medication that make you drowsy. This type of apnea generally causes loud snoring.

Sleep apnea causes pauses in breathing or periods of shallow breathing. Gasps, snorts, or a choking sound sometimes accompanies the moments when the airways are able to open. You or your sleep partner might be disrupted from sleep due to these sudden changes in breathing. Your partner might notice that your snoring stops very abruptly throughout the night.

  • Do you feel very groggy and/or have a headache in the morning?
  • Do you often have trouble staying awake when reading, watching television, or driving?
  • Do you often feel excessively tired throughout the day?
  • Do you have trouble concentrating or remembering things?
  • Do you have mood swings or frequently feel irritable or depressed?

Even if you do not actually wake up throughout the night, sleep apnea can cause your quality of sleep to suffer greatly. This disorder can cause breathing to pause or shallow for seconds or minutes, as many as 30 times within one hour.

If this lack of oxygen does not cause you to wake completely, it can move you from deep sleep to light sleep, meaning you will be significantly less rested throughout the next day. If you never seem to have enough energy, cannot concentrate, or otherwise feel that you are showing signs of sleep deprivation, this could be due to sleep apnea.

Do you often wake up with a dry mouth?

As mentioned, obstructive sleep apnea is the most common form of this disorder. When there are blockages in the airways, this will often cause people to sleep with their mouths open. This leads to a very dry mouth in the mornings.

Consult with a Doctor

If you suspect that sleep apnea is disrupting your health, the next step is to consult with a doctor as soon as possible. A physician can help you identify, understand, and treat the root causes. This can mean changing your lifestyle and diet, wearing a mouthpiece to open airways, using breathing devices, or undergoing surgery as a last resort to improve your nighttime breathing.

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