This blog originally appeared on Alex Lucio’s blog here.
If you’re reading this, chances are you Googles “How do I know if I have sleep apnea?” As the Executive Vice President of a manufacturer and distributor of medical devices for the treatment of sleep disordered breathing, I can tell you everything you need to know about sleep apnea and what its symptoms are.
Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder that restricts your air passageways when you’re sleeping. Since your oxygen supply is restricted, sleepers are woken up several times throughout the night to breathe. Do you think you are one of the 22 million American adults with sleep apnea? Although this is a surprisingly large number, only 20 percent of sleep apnea cases are diagnosed!
Unfortunately the only way to diagnose sleep apnea is to take a sleep test, but this list of symptoms can clue you in to see if a doctor’s visit is in order.
Your Spouse Moved to a Different Room
This is probably a key indicator that can clue you in if you have sleep apnea — especially if your spouse usually sleeps in the same bed as you. Although you are sound asleep throughout the night, the snoring and gasping your partner hears can keep them up at night! And what’s their only solution? Moving elsewhere to get a good night’s sleep. If you notice this happens frequently, talk to your spouse. Surprisingly, most sufferers of sleep apnea aren’t diagnosed until their spouse says something about it!
You Havea Headache
If you have sleep apnea, you frequently stop breathing throughout the night — which means your brain gets less oxygen. As a defense mechanism, your blood vessels expand to allow more oxygen to pass through. However, this comes at a cost since this can leave you with headaches. Take special notice if the pain occurs on both sides of your head, because this is where sleep apnea sufferers get their headaches the most.
You Have Dry Mouth
Sufferers of sleep apnea often struggle with breathing through their nose at night. The next best option? Unconsciously opening their mouth to breathe. This can leave you with unpleasant dry mouth and even a sore throat in the morning!
You Feel Like You Didn’t Sleep at All
Although you got your recommended eight hours of sleep every night, you still feel like you didn’t sleep at all. Why? Sleep is constantly interrupted throughout the night because breathing temporarily stops — kind of like choking — and your body wakes up to let you know that you’re choking. Throughout the night you’re losing quality sleep, which will leave you feeling exhausted when you wake up. This is especially dangerous for drivers, since driving while tired is similar to driving under the influence of alcohol.