How Do I Recognize Sleep Apnea?
One of the most telling signs of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is snoring. Since snoring happens while you are asleep, it may be difficult to recognize the signs in yourself. Sleep apnea is a very common sleep disorder. It is very important to treat OSA because left untreated, sleep apnea can put you at an increased risk for many health issues including: stroke, heart disease, arrhythmias, gastroesophageal reflux disease, diabetes, and heart attacks. Sleep apnea can also lead to drowsiness, mood swings, and weight gain in both yourself and anyone that your snoring may prevent from getting a good night’s rest. So, how do you recognize if you have sleep apnea?
Snoring With Frequent Breaks in Breathing
Most sleep apnea patients snore, but not everyone who snores has sleep apnea. Sleep apnea occurs when the soft tissues of your mouth and throat collapse into your airway causing a stop in your breathing. This will cause stress on your body as it believes it is suffocating. Your brain will unconsciously wake your body up to make sure you breathe and get oxygen. This waking up may not be enough for you to notice, but it will be enough to disrupt your sleep cycle. If your partner or family member notices that your loud snoring also comes with frequent breaks in breathing and gasping for air, this may be a sign of sleep apnea.
You Wake Up With Headaches
Headaches are commonly reported by patients with sleep apnea. Low oxygen levels caused by OSA can widen the blood vessels and cause vascular headaches. Along with waking up with headaches, you may wake up feeling drowsy even after a full night of sleep.
High Blood Pressure
For the same reasons you experience headaches from sleep apnea, you can get high blood pressure. When your brain realizes that it’s not receiving adequate oxygen levels in the blood, it will cause a spike in blood pressure as it restricts your blood vessels in an effort to wake up your body. When this happens repeatedly every night, your body gets used to having to restrict its blood vessels causing it to happen during the day, too.