Sleep Apnea Symptoms

Sleep Apnea Symptoms Include Tiredness, Weight Gain, and High Blood Pressure.

Sleep Apnea Symptoms

Are you ever sleepy during the day? Do you wake up often during the night? Does your partner complain that you snore? These are some of the most common sleep apnea symptoms.

You may be having trouble with healthy sleep, and one of the most common sleep disorders is sleep apnea. The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) reports that an estimated 18 million American adults have sleep apnea.  

Disturbances in your sleep due to sleep apnea can make you groggy during the day, but sleep apnea is far more than just an inconvenience. It is a true health concern. Sleep apnea is linked to weight gain and high blood pressure, which can lead to diabetes and other serious health conseqeuences.

Be sure to talk to your doctor if you have sleep apnea symptoms, think you may have sleep apnea, or have risk factors for sleep apnea. You can get this serious health condition checked out and figure out a treatment plan. The results may be more energy, an easier time controlling your weight, lower blood pressure, and better overall health.  

What Is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder in which you have periods of interrupted breathing during your sleep. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) explains that you may stop breathing for 10 seconds or longer several times in a night.

The most common type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). It is the result of your airway being blocked when the tissue at the back of your throat relaxes. Sleep apnea can also result from trouble with your brain’s breathing signals. This kind of sleep apnea is called central sleep apnea (CSA).

Sleep Apnea Symptoms

Although sleep apnea is the cessation of breathing during the night, those periods probably will not alert you that you have sleep apnea. Instead, the symptoms that you are likely to notice are the symptoms of sleep deprivation. 

  • Sleepiness during the day.

  • Lack of focus and difficulty concentrating.

  • Irritability.

  • Anxiety, mood changes, or depression.

You may feel that your sleep is restless. If you have a partner, he or she may notice snoring and patterns in which you stop breathing and then gasp for air.

Sleep Apnea Risk Factors

An estimated 1 in 5 American adults will develop sleep apnea. Are you likely to be one of them? The risk factors for sleep apnea include both lifestyle and genetic factors.

  • Obesity. Extra fat around your airways can interfere with breathing.

  • Smoking.

  • Nasal congestion.

  • Being male or a post-menopausal woman.

  • Family history of sleep apnea.

  • Use of alcohol.

  • Use of sedatives.

  • History of stroke.

Consequences of Sleep Apnea

“Being tired” is not the only symptom or consequence of sleep apnea. The condition can lead to dangerous complications. For example, people with sleep apnea are up to 5 times more likely to be in motor vehicle accidents! You can fall asleep at the wheel or lose focus more easily.

Sleep apnea is also linked to:

  • Type 2 diabetes.

  • Cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, and irregular heartbeat.

  • Fatty liver disease.

  • Metabolic syndrome.

  • Inability to sleep can lead to consequences that can be anything from unpleasant to downright dangerous and unhealthy. If you can’t sleep as much as you need to most nights, it is a good idea to get help to figure out how to get the shuteye you need.

Impaired Energy and Alertness

You are almost sure to know firsthand how sleep apnea symptoms feel. You may have reduced energy, which makes getting through the day harder and often less enjoyable. Your ability to focus diminishes, and you may find yourself nodding off. Concentrating and remembering were the top two daily activities that people reported having trouble with due to lack of sleep, according to the CDC.

Be honest, now: last time you were short on sleep, how well did you focus during your afternoon meeting? Did you remember much of it afterwards? And, did you have to fight the urge to nod off during it?

Unintentional Weight Gain

Sleep apnea symptoms also include unintentional weight gain. Intuitively, it might make sense that sleeping less would help with weight loss, since you would be spending less time lying in bed and more time up and about, presumably burning more calories. That is not the case. Here are some ways that sleep deprivation can increase risk for weight gain, as described by the Harvard School of Public Health and a review article in the journal, “Obesity (Silver Spring).”

  • More hunger: Sleep apnea symptoms may include hunger, because you may have higher levels of ghrelin, which is a hormone that increases hunger, and lower levels of leptin, which is a hormone that lets you know that you are satisfied.

  • More time to eat: You might burn a few more calories during those late-night hours while awake compared to if you were sleeping, but having even a few extra peanuts is likely to outweigh the extra calorie burn. Regularly having a more typical late-night snack can pile on the pounds.

  • Poorer choices: Sleep apnea symptoms can include making poor food choices. Sleep-deprived people crave more high-fat, high-carbohydrate, high-sugar foods, and have less ability to resist them. That means you are more likely to choose the pizza over the salad, and you are not going to stop at one potato chip.

  • Lower metabolism: Sleep apnea symptoms can include a lower metabolism. Your body temperature may drop so you burn fewer calories throughout the day.

  • Less energy: Sleep apnea symptoms can include less energy. If you are too tired to exercise or even move around much during the day, you will burn fewer calories.

The ASA estimates that being short on sleep could account for as much as 5% of obesity!

Sleep Apnea Symptoms and Weight Gain

Chronic Health Conditions

Sleep apnea symptoms affect your physical and mental health in many ways. Being short on sleep is linked to increased risk for the following conditions.

  • Type 2 diabetes.

  • Heart disease.

  • Stroke.

  • Depression and other mood disorders.

  • Hypertension.

Sleep Apnea Symptoms and High Blood Pressure

Vehicular and Other Accidents

Not surprisingly, given the importance of sleep for concentration and coordination, one of the sleep apnea symptoms is accidents on the roads and in the workplace.

  • Nearly 1 in 25 drivers has admitted to falling asleep at the wheel within the past month.

  • Sleep deprivation is responsible for 1,550 fatalities annually in the U.S.

  • Sleep deprivation costs about $54 million per year in lost productivity, plus 5 extra missed days of work per worker with insomnia.

If you have sleep apnea symptoms, what should you do?

  1. Contact a sleep doctor in your area. Simply Google “Sleep Doctor + City”.

  2. Get a sleep study booked to get a real diagnosis. Insurance almost always covers this.

  3. Stop drinking alcohol. Alcohol relaxes the muscles in your throat, exacerbating the affects of sleep apnea.

  4. Stop taking sleep aids like Melatonin. Melatonin also relaxes the muscles of the throat, ensuring more frequent instances of apnea (stopping breathing during the night).

  5. Get a home blood pressure monitor on Amazon - they’re about $20. Use it every day to see if you fall within the normal blood pressure guidelines. If you have high blood pressure, then your sleep apnea may be causing it.

  6. Don’t fret - you’re one of tens of millions of Americans and folks around the world with this common condition. It can be managed! We’ve added some other helpful articles below.