How Do You Know If You Have Sleep Apnea – Signs and Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

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HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE SLEEP APNEA?

Unfortunately, without having a sleep study (PSG or Polysomnogram), it’s difficult to know if you definitively have sleep apnea. However, there are a few indicators that will point you in the right direction, so if you experience any of the symptoms below, be sure and discuss them with your physician so you can figure out the best course of action. You can learn more about sleep apnea by reading my detailed article here.

LOUD OR FREQUENT SNORING

One of the most common symptoms of sleep apnea is loud snoring.

Just so you know, not everyone who snores has sleep apnea, and conversely, not everyone who has sleep apnea is a snorer.

Snoring Facts

  • snoring is the partial blockage of the airway usually caused by the muscles in your neck, soft palate and tongue relaxing and partially blocking the airway.
  • snoring is not sleep apnea until the snoring is accompanied by pauses in breathing or gasping for breath in between snores.
  • If you are a heavy snorer and do not have sleep apnea, unfortunately, within five to ten years, you potentially could develop sleep apnea.

  • As we age we start to lose muscle tone in the tongue, neck and soft palate. As we lose this muscle tone, the tongue will tend to fall back further. And as it falls back further, the snoring is increases and eventually relaxed to the point of blocking the airway completely.


EXCESSIVE DAYTIME SLEEPINESS

Do you wake up feeling drowsy or as if you haven’t slept a wink all night?  You may be suffering from Excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) or more commonly known as hypersomnia is far more serious than just feeling drowsy or worn out every now and then.  It’s a strong, overwhelming, and sometimes uncontrollable need to sleep during the day.

FACTS

  • EDS will cause you to feel extremely tired, you feel like you could fall asleep at the drop of a hat. And that can be really inconvenient, not to mention deadly when you are behind the wheel.
  • Some companies are now requiring drivers and pilots to sleep with a CPAP before they can begin their shift.
  • Studies have shown that a sleep-deprived driver is just as much if not more dangerous than a driver under the influence of drugs or alcohol which I have written about here.
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness is one of the reasons why people with severe sleep apnea are at a higher risk for accidents on the job.


HEADACHES

Lack of sleep can aggravate headaches. These headaches can happen when you first wake up, or during the day after a nap. Sleep apnea has even been linked to migraines, as well as tension headaches.  Repeated cycles of low oxygen to the brain throughout the night can cause the blood vessels in your brain to widen and can cause vascular headaches.

Headaches suck!  Enough Said.


CANT REMEMBER DREAMS

Ever ask yourself, Why Cant I Remember My Dreams?  It’s most common for obstructive sleep apnea to strike while you’re in the middle of a REM cycle because, this is the state where your entire body is relaxed, basically paralyzed.

Just so happens, this is also the stage of sleep where dreaming occurs.  As the apnea takes place, your brain goes into all hands on deck mode and wakes you from this state of sleep to catch your breath.


WHAT STAGE OF SLEEP DO I DREAM?

The answer is during REM sleep. This is the phase where we do our dreaming. As you dream, your eyes dart back and forth beneath your eyelids, as if you were really looking at the things happening in your dreams.

This is also why your body is in a paralyzed state because your entire body would be acting out the motions in your dream.  And you and I know that is not pleasant to your partner during those awesome falling dreams.  So in short, if you’re not dreaming, that’s a sign you’re not getting into your REM sleep and sleep apnea is a possibility.


GASPING FOR BREATH

if your spouse or bed partner notices you stopping breathing or gasping for breath there is a chance it is due to sleep apnea.


LACK OF FOCUS

Losing focus during the day is another common sign of severe sleep apnea. Sleep trouble and problems concentrating are closely linked. Your professional life shouldn’t suffer because of a sleep condition like severe sleep apnea!

There are many treatment options available and you should speak to a sleep specialist to determine which snoring and sleep apnea solution is right for you.


AM I AT RISK FOR HAVING SLEEP APNEA?

  • GENDER
    Sleep apnea is more common in men than women
  • AGE
    Sleep apnea can occur at any age. However, it is more common in young adulthood and middle age.
  • GENETICS
    Thanks, dad! Sleep Apnea is inheritable. Which means if an immediate family member has it, there is a chance you will have it as well.
  • WEIGHT

    The risk for sleep apnea is higher if you are overweight with a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or more or obese with a BMI of 30 or higher

    • Your risk for sleep apnea is higher if you have a neck size of 17 inches or more for men, or 16 inches or more for women. A large neck has more soft tissue that can block your airway during sleep.
    • You CAN have sleep apnea and not be overweight.  This is a common misconception about sleep apnea.  Although, weight can be a contributing factor, genetics, and physiological makeup of your body play a significant role as well.

 

CONCLUSION

Like I said earlier, without having a sleep study (PSG or Polysomnogram), it’s difficult to know if have sleep apnea or not.   If you happen to have any of the symptoms listed above, please, please go see a physician and get set up for a sleep study.

The Sleep study is a piece of cake.

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