Sleep apnoea is a disorder which only makes itself known while you’re unconscious, and the only truly reliable way of determining whether you’re affected is to participate in a sleep study. However, there are several warning signs which provide an indication of sleep apnoea.
Your partner notices loud or chronic snoring
Snoring occurs when the airway is obstructed. This obstruction will normally be minor, but sleep apnoea involves a more serious blockage which results in a more noticeable level of snoring – usually enough to keep your partner from sleeping well. If they frequently complain of loud snoring, you might have sleep apnoea.
Partners should be especially concerned if they hear gasping, choking, or snorting. The lack of oxygen in the body can often cause people to wake briefly in order to frantically draw breath. This is often quick enough to be forgotten about by the person themselves, but anyone sharing a bed with them is likely to take note.
You’re exhausted – regardless of time spent in bed
Tiredness during the day has become so common in the modern world that it often slips by unnoticed. Those with sleep apnoea often feel excessively tired due to the constant interruption of their sleep cycles, but ignore the condition since it typically builds gradually.
It can be difficult to attribute a cause to chronic fatigue, especially since many people regularly fail to get their recommended amount of sleep. However, if you regularly feel tired after spending seven to nine hours in bed, it could be an indicator of sleep apnoea.
You’re waking up with headaches – or an urge for the bathroom
People with sleep apnoea often wake up with headaches since the frequent pauses in breathing decrease the levels of oxygen in the brain. These headaches will typically become more frequent and last longer as the condition grows more severe.
In addition to headaches, there is a strong link between sleep apnoea and nocturia (the frequent need to urinate during the night). The lack of oxygen essentially triggers the body’s flight or fight response mechanisms – including a feeling of fullness in the bladder
If these symptoms present themselves, ensure that you participate in a sleep study – either privately or through the NHS – to determine for sure whether you’re suffering from sleep apnoea.