How Can I Tell If I Have Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a condition that stops and starts your breathing while you sleep, causing either a pause in your breathing or some periods of shallow breathing. Sleep apnea can disrupt your sleep, because the breathing pauses may wake you up (usually for super brief periods, so you may not remember the awakenings).

According to the Mayo Clinic, there are three main types of sleep apnea:

  • The first and most common type is obstructive sleep apnea, which happens when the throat muscles relax and narrow the airway, thus slowing or cutting off breathing.
  • The second is central sleep apnea, which happens when the brain doesn’t send the right messages to the muscles in the body that control breathing.
  • The third type, known as complex sleep apnea syndrome, occurs when someone has both obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea at the same time.

According to LiveScience, 18 million Americans have sleep apnea. Common signs of the disorder include:

  • Loud snoring at night
  • Excessive sleepiness during the day
  • Waking up with a headache
  • Dry mouth
  • Sore throat
  • Breathing stoppages during sleep (as observed by a sleep partner or sleep study)

[Editor’s Note: The content provided on this site is for general informational purposes only. Any information provided is not a substitute for professional medical advice. We encourage you to consult with the appropriate health expert if you have concerns.]

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Diagnosing Sleep Apnea

There are some online tests that can help you determine whether you should discuss sleep apnea with your doctor. According to the Mayo Clinic, your doctor may diagnose you with sleep apnea based on symptoms you describe to them, or they may refer you for further testing.

One common test for sleep apnea is called a nocturnal polysomnography. “During this test, you’re hooked up to equipment that monitors your heart, lung and brain activity, breathing patterns, arm and leg movements, and blood oxygen levels while you sleep,” the Mayo Clinic website explains. Your doctor might also recommend home sleep test alternatives.

The good news is that there are helpful treatments available for sleep apnea.

Some people wear a mask, known as a continuous positive airway pressure device (CPAP), while they sleep. “CPAP is a mask that fits over the nose and/or mouth, and gently blows air into the airway to help keep it open during sleep,” the National Sleep Foundation explains.

RELATED: Can CPAP Treatment Improve Sleep Apnea Patients’ Sex Lives? 

Other treatment options include wearing mouthguards that can help position your tongue in a way that facilitates clear breathing or surgery to remove excess tissue in the airway.

If you are concerned about sleep apnea, it’s a good idea to consult a medical professional. They’ll be able to help you determine a proper diagnosis and identify the right treatment plan for you.

[Editor’s Note: The content provided on this site is for general informational purposes only. Any information provided is not a substitute for professional medical advice. We encourage you to consult with the appropriate health expert if you have concerns.]

Featured image: Justyna Kaminska/Shutterstock

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Joe Auer

Joe Auer is the editor of Mattress Clarity. He mainly focuses on mattress reviews and oversees the content across the site.

He likes things simple and take a straightforward, objective approach to his reviews. Joe has personally tested nearly 250 mattresses and always recommends people do their research before buying a new bed. He has been testing mattresses for over 5 years now, so he knows a thing or two when it comes to mattress selection. He has been cited as an authority in the industry by a number of large publications.

Joe has an undergraduate degree from Wake Forest University and an MBA from Columbia University.

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