It can be tough to identify sleep apnea independently since the most prominent symptoms only occur when you’re asleep. But you can get around this difficulty by asking a bed partner to observe your sleep habits or recording yourself during sleep.
Major signs and symptoms of sleep apnea
- Loud and chronic snoring
- Choking, snorting, or gasping during sleep
- Long pauses in breathing
- Daytime sleepiness, no matter how much time you spend in bed
Other common signs and symptoms of sleep apnea include:
- Waking up with a dry mouth or sore throat
- Morning headaches
- Restless or fitful sleep
- Insomnia or nighttime awakenings
- Going to the bathroom frequently during the night
- Waking up feeling out of breath
- Forgetfulness and difficulty concentrating
- Moodiness, irritability, or depression
Signs and symptoms of sleep apnea in children
While obstructive sleep apnea can be common in children, it’s not always easy to recognize. In addition to continuous loud snoring, children with sleep apnea may adopt strange sleeping positions and suffer from bedwetting, excessive perspiration at night, or night terrors. Children with sleep apnea may also exhibit changes in their daytime behavior, such as:
- Hyperactivity or inattention
- Developmental and growth problems
- Decrease in school performance
- Irritable, angry, or hostile behavior
- Breathing through the mouth instead of the nose
If you suspect your child may have sleep apnea, consult a pediatrician specializing in sleep disorders. Once obstructive sleep apnea is diagnosed, surgery to remove the child’s tonsils or adenoids usually corrects the problem.
See a doctor immediately if you suspect sleep apnea
Sleep apnea can be a potentially serious disorder, so if you spot the warning signs, see a doctor immediately. An official diagnosis of sleep apnea may require seeing a sleep specialist and a home-based sleep test using a portable monitor or an overnight stay at a sleep clinic.
Not everyone who snores has sleep apnea and not everyone who has sleep apnea snores. So how do you tell the difference between garden variety snoring and a more severe case of sleep apnea?
The biggest telltale sign is how you feel during the day. Normal snoring doesn’t interfere with the quality of your sleep as much as sleep apnea, so you’re less likely to suffer from extreme fatigue and sleepiness during the day.