The signs of sleep apnea can be very confusing sometimes, as other sleep disorders also have common signs and symptoms. Sleep apnea belongs to the same list of sleep disorders as insomnia, and wreaks havoc on a restful sleep. This happens as a result of the unusual breathing patterns that sleep apnea causes. Truth be told, sleep apnea may not necessarily be as deadly as people think it is, provided it is handled on time and in the right way. In fact, around 90% of a group of people may be having sleep apnea without even being aware of it.
Signs of Sleep Apnea – Questions to Ask Oneself
First of all, people should ask themselves some questions which relate to the signs of sleep apnea, such as:
- Do they find themselves feeling more tired on waking as compared to when they went to bed?
- Have they been trying very hard to lose weight, but have no success?
- Do they have a loud snoring problem when they sleep?
- Do they suddenly wake up screaming in the middle of the night?
- Are they always tired during the day even upon sleeping enough?
If the answer to any of these questions is ‘yes’, the concerned person is surely suffering from signs of sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is basically the lack of breath or oxygen in the body, which happens when people sleep. It can undoubtedly be very fatal. Because of the difficulty in pinpointing the problem directly, people should be aware of some signs. For example, a person is definitely displaying signs of sleep apnea if the following problems occur:
- Choking or gasping while asleep
- Skipping breaths (which is usually not realized by the patient but instead a sleeping partner)
- Very loud snores
- Suddenly waking up out of breathlessness and realizing that they actually worked a sweat
- Falling asleep at inopportune times in the day and feeling fatigued throughout
Reasons Why Signs of Sleep Apnea Occur
Now, here are some common reasons of why the above mentioned problems occur:
- Bad sleeping positions – People may not position themselves appropriately while they sleep, like applying pressure on one arm, or wrong neck positions.
- Obesity – It is a generally noted fact that overweight people have breathing difficulties due to the fat deposits and body massiveness.
- Distinctive physical features – Distinct physical features such as large tonsils, a receding chin or a large tongue lead to signs of sleep apnea.
- Nasal congestion – Problems like cold, sinusitis and allergies cause nasal congestions, causing breathing problems.
- Aging – As people age, they tend to develop various problems that may be the cause of sleep apnea eventually.
- Sedatives, smoking and drugs – The use of these substances is harmful and can be the reason for sleep apnea occurring.
Here are a few tips to help people avoid the occurrence of the signs of sleep apnea:
- Avoiding sleeping on the back and instead sleep on the sides. Some special beddings and pillows can be used to help in doing this. Also, raising the neck to a slightly higher but comfortable level is good to ease breathing.
- Following regular sleep schedules. People having erratic sleep schedules are most prone to having sleep disorders. Sticking to daily sleep schedules helps in maintaining regular sleep hours.
- Losing weight if one is obese.
- Quitting – smoking, alcohol and the use of other sedative drugs. People may not realize it, but doing this greatly reduces the risk of sleep apnea occurring.
- Using dilators or nasal drops and sprays just before going to bed helps in keeping the airways/nasal passages open.
A Few Signs of Sleep Apnea to Take Note Of:
- Lack of breathing – This is a major symptom of sleep apnea and the source of the name ‘apnea’. Episodes causing people not to breathe for 5 times per hour are called ‘mild apnea’, while those causing over 50 lack of breath episodes per hour are called ‘severe apnea’. The shortness of breath determines the severity of the condition.
- Sleepiness – People suffering from excessive sleepiness during the day face behavioral problems or hyperactivity. Excessive sleepiness is one of the signs of sleep apnea that mainly occurs due to interruptions in sleep patterns throughout the night.
- Loud and heavy snoring – Snoring is a loud noise people make while they sleep. It is caused because of an obstruction in the airways. However, it is not necessary that all people having snoring problems suffer of sleep apnea.
- Sudden late night awakening – Most people suffering of sleep apnea wake up suddenly throughout the night as a result of struggling for breath. Most of the times such people don’t recollect the occurrence of such events after waking up in the morning. In such cases it is necessary to ask the help of partners or individuals sharing the bedroom to assist in identifying such signs of sleep apnea.