What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea affects the way you breathe when you’re sleeping. In untreated sleep apnea, breathing is briefly interrupted or becomes very shallow during sleep. These breathing pauses typically last between 10 to 20 seconds and can occur hundreds of times a night, jolting you out of your natural sleep rhythm. Consequently, you spend more time in light sleep and less time in the deep, restorative sleep you need to be energetic, mentally sharp and productive the next day.
This chronic sleep deprivation results in daytime sleepiness, slow reflexes, poor concentration, and an increased risk of accidents. Sleep apnea can also lead to serious health problems over time, including diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and weight gain. But with treatment you can control the symptoms, get your sleep back on track, and start enjoying being refreshed and alert every day.
Sleep apnea signs and symptoms
It can be tough to identify sleep apnea on your own, since the most prominent symptoms only occur when you’re asleep. However, you can get around this difficulty by asking a bed partner to observe your sleep habits or recording yourself during sleep.
Major signs and symptoms of sleep apnea
If pauses occur while you snore, and choking or gasping follows the pauses, these are major signs that you could have sleep apnea.
Another common sign of sleep apnea is fighting sleepiness during the day, at work, or while driving. You may find yourself rapidly falling asleep during the quiet moments of the day when you're not active. Even if you don't have daytime sleepiness, talk with your doctor if you have problems breathing during sleep.
Other common signs and symptoms of sleep apnea
- Morning headaches
- Memory or learning problems and not being able to concentrate
- Feeling irritable, depressed, or having mood swings or personality changes
- Waking up frequently to urinate
- Dry mouth or sore throat when you wake up
Signs and symptoms of sleep apnea in children
While obstructive sleep apnea can be common in children, it’s not always easy to recognize. In addition to continuous loud snoring, children with sleep apnea may adopt strange sleeping positions and suffer from bedwetting, excessive perspiration at night, or night terrors.
If you suspect your child may have sleep apnea, consult a pediatrician who specializes in sleep disorders. Once obstructive sleep apnea is diagnosed, surgery to remove the child’s tonsils or adenoids usually corrects the problem.
For more information or to book your free, no-obligation, consultation
Call Dr. Orpana and the team at Lakeland Clinic at 705-878-0933 or Toll Free 1-800-622-0252.