Loud and ongoing snoring, sometimes interrupted with a gasp for air, is the number one symptom. Although the sufferer remains asleep their sleep state may fluctuate between deep sleep and light sleep. It is often their sleep partner who brings this to their attention. Note that someone who snores may not be experiencing obstructed breathing, but this along with other symptoms can indicate this condition.
An episode occurs when a sleeper appears to stop breathing, followed by a loud, involuntary gasp or sound which indicates they are trying to catch their breath. These episodes can happen over 30 – 40 times in a single hour, with five occurrences considered as severe sleep apnea. Most of the time, a sufferer has no clue that this is happening and hears about it by a concerned loved one or while taking part of a sleep study at home or in a sleep clinic.
Feeling lethargic during the day, even though it seems like you had a full night of sleep, can be a sign that your normal sleep cycles are being interrupted. You may not even remember waking up at all.
Insomnia is defined as habitual sleeplessness or inability to sleep. Most people experience wakefulness during the night at some point or another but this differs from what an insomniac goes through.
This can quickly become a terrible cycle of sleepless nights followed by difficulty even falling asleep at all. Paired with the symptoms of continual interruption of breathing can make it literally impossible to enter all of the sleep cycles necessary for your body to be healthy.
Mood is affected when you aren’t able to sleep contently throughout the night. It can leave you feeling fuzzy headed, forgetful and certainly irritable. A tired person may not just be “grumpy” either. An extended, untreated case of obstructed breathing could lead to mood disorders such as depression or anxiety. It is important to get a professional opinion if you notice significant inexplicable changes in your mood, especially if they become more noticeable or severe.
Another common symptom is waking up with a sore throat or dry mouth. This is caused by the sufferer’s mouth being open frequently through the night and not producing enough saliva to moisturize properly.
Again, waking up with cracked lips does not necessarily mean you have this condition. There are many other causes of dry mouth such as diet, medication, excessive drinking and smoking. It is imperative to look at this symptom along with any others as a whole, then work with a medical professional to uncover sleep apnea or any other disorder.
There is a name for having to urinate more than two times in any given sleep period – nocturia. A healthy adult should be able to sleep between 6 – 8 hours without having to get up to use the restroom. There are factors, such as aging, that may affect this but if you feel you’re waking up more often, especially without drinking more liquids than normal, discuss this with your doctor.
In addition to being exhausted and/or moody during the day, sleep apnea sufferers often experience the inability to settle into a restful sleep. They can experience tossing and turning, of which the cause could be equally as much psychological as it is physical, but in both cases quite frustrating and disheartening.
Research has shown that this type of interrupted breathing has many side effects such as increased blood pressure, lethargy, stroke and even heart disease. It has also shown, perhaps not as widely known, that it also can affect your sex life. Studies show that it can lead to erectile dysfunction and a loss of sex drive.
The National Sleep Foundation, a nonprofit organization that promotes public understanding of sleep and sleep disorders, stated in a recent report that patients with erectile dysfunction were more than 2x as likely to suffer from sleep apnea. This may have much to do with testosterone levels, which are highest with sleep and which drop when there is a lack of proper rest. Logically thinking it makes sense that obstructed breathing, which destroys normal sleep patterns, leads to lower testosterone levels and sexual dysfunction.
Men are not the only ones affected. Similar studies have found 43% of women reported sexual dysfunction which they felt impaired their quality of life. A study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that female sleep apnea sufferers were more likely than their normal counterparts to experience significant sexual dysfunction.
Sufferers report experiencing migraine-like headaches, typically in the morning. They also may experience sensitivity to sound and light, as well as throbbing or pressure. While this is a common symptom, it is also related to many other conditions.
Looking at this symptom and any of the others in the list, reviewing your overall health including oral and dental, and discussing with a professional familiar with this condition is key to discovering if you have it and to what degree, as well as treatment options available.
Visit us today at our OC dental office in Costa Mesa. We are in Orange County, California just minutes away from Newport Beach and nearby Irvine. We have a DDS qualified Silent Nite and Somnodent-certified dentist at our practice to provide the best sleep apnea care for you or your loved one.