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Sleep Apnea: Symptoms

Snoring is not just a laugh for sitcoms.

You’re awakened suddenly in the middle of the night gasping for air. Or maybe you think you’re sleeping at night just fine but you find yourself struggling to stay awake every day at work. These are symptoms. Symptoms common of obstructive sleep apnea.

When it comes to snoring, what’s normal?

Normal numbers of apnea-hypopnea index, or pauses in breathing, while a person is sleeping is five or less episodes per night. This means a person’s airway completely collapses or partially collapses several times throughout the night. So if you’re experiencing this more than five times per night, obstructive sleep apnea is likely to blame. But, this isn’t the only symptom of obstructive sleep apnea to look out for. This is true especially due to the fact that you may not even be aware you are experiencing these sleep breathing episodes if you are a heavy sleeper or you sleep alone. So it’s important to take a look at this comprehensive list of symptoms to see what others you may be experiencing if you don’t think you are snoring or experiencing these apneaic episodes at night.

Aside from these sleep breathing episodes, there are lots of other symptoms associated with obstructive sleep apnea.


Common symptoms of sleep apnea include:

  • Loud or frequent snoring
  • Silent pauses in breathing
  • Choking or gasping sounds
  • Daytime sleepiness or fatigue
  • Un-refreshing or restless sleep
  • Awakening with a dry mouth
  • Headaches in the mornings
  • Difficulty staying asleep
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Moodiness
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Dry Mouth
  • Difficulties with Memory
  • Lack of Energy
  • Low Libido
  • Frequent Waking Up to Urinate at Night

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    Sleep Apnea in Women 

    Sleep Apnea is not a man’s disease, contrary to what was once believed many decades ago. Because snoring is so commonly shown in men in sitcoms and movies, it can seem like something that not many women experience but that simply isn’t true. Sleep apnea can, however,  show up differently in women. Often, women experience less apneic episodes per hour than men and their symptoms are often subtler making it harder to diagnose. However, 40% of sleep apnea diagnoses are women today, up from 30% a decade ago thanks to patient and doctor education and the push for awareness at all levels.

    Two of the symptoms women can experience when it comes to sleep apnea are anxiety and depression. A lack of quality sleep can have ill effects on one’s mental health and this is not exclusive to just women, however, research so far has shown it has affected the mental health of women more often than men. It also can lead to a missed or misdiagnosis. It’s important to have a sleep study done if you are experiencing a combination of any of the symptoms listed above to rule out sleep apnea as the culprit.