4 Signs You Might Have Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea is a common disorder that causes the airways to collapse or become blocked while you’re asleep. It can cause you to stop breathing for 20 to 30 seconds at a time, numerous times throughout the night.
Untreated apnea can increase the risk of a number of diseases, including high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some headache syndromes. Yet many people with sleep apnea don’t know they have it.
Could you be one of them?Alan Schwartz, M.D., director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, describes the warning signs.
1. You’re a Noisy Sleeper
Snoring, snorting or gasping: Noisy sleep is a warning sign that your upper
airway might be obstructed. Not all snorers have apnea, but the two often
go hand-in-hand, Schwartz says. “As snoring gets louder, chances of having
sleep apnea are greater and greater.”
If you have apnea, your bed partner might notice that the snores are punctuated by pauses in breathing. “Those are apnea episodes, and they can recur hundreds of times a night,” Schwartz says.
2. You’re Restless During Sleep
People with apnea often toss and turn and otherwise show signs of restless nighttime sleep, Schwartz notes. If you find yourself kicking, thrashing, jerking or waking up under a twisted pile of disheveled sheets, apnea might be a possible cause. “When you’re struggling to breathe at night, your sleep becomes disrupted,” Schwartz says.
What Could It Be?
Sleep apnea is hardly the only issue that interferes with sleep. Experts have described more than 70 different sleep disorders. Other common culprits include:
- Restless legs syndrome: RLS causes unpleasant sensations in the legs and an urge to move them for relief.
- Narcolepsy: This disorder causes people to fall asleep suddenly during the day for periods of a few seconds to a number of minutes. It occurs regardless of how much sleep a person gets at night.
- Insomnia: Some 60 million Americans regularly have trouble falling or staying asleep, for a variety of reasons.
If you're having trouble sleeping, you should learn when to talk to your doctor .
3. You’re Always Tired
4. You Fit the Profile
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