Signs and Symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea – And What You Can Do About It
Do you snore loudly and find yourself waking up in the middle of the night? Are you feeling especially fatigue during the day? Does a partner note that you often wake up gasping or choking, or you suddenly stop breathing while you’re sleeping? There’s a common cause for this, and it’s not to be taken lightly. Obstructive Sleep Apnea can cause serious health issues that impact everything from your blood pressure to your likelihood of having a stroke, heart attack, or another life-threatening condition – not to mention the way you feel throughout the day! Correctly identifying sleep apnea symptoms can greatly improve your health.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea, or OSA, is a common breathing disorder that is typically noticed by a bed partner or spouse; they’ll note that you snore loudly, awake gasping for air, or noticeably stop breathing for short periods of time. This is because your airway collapses as your sleep, causing you to stop breathing for short periods of time until your body arouses you out of your current phase of sleep.
Signs and symptoms of sleep apnea that you may notice on your own include:
- Being aware of awakening repeatedly during the night; you will not notice most arousals, but if you’re cognizant of being awake a couple of times in the middle of the night, or you get up to use the bathroom more than once overnight, it’s a sign that something is going on with your sleeping patterns.
- Fatigue or sleepiness during the day – a great way to check for this is the Epworth Sleepiness Scale, commonly used by sleep physicians
- Waking up in the morning with a dry or sore throat
- Morning headaches
- Mood changes throughout the day
- If you are overweight and/or a male over the age of 40, you’re more likely to have OSA. However, this is not a hard-and-fast rule. Many thin people, women, and even children also have OSA!
Tips for Seeing a Sleep Professional
If you have not yet been diagnosed with OSA, see a medical professional; only an overnight sleep study can tell you definitively what you have and how severe it is. Many sleep clinics require a referral first from your primary care doctor. This is generally easy to obtain; your doctor will listen to your symptoms and send you on your way to a sleep clinic. It’s particularly important to receive a referral if you have insurance that requires this – you do not want to pay for a sleep study out-of-pocket if there’s an easy solution for making a copay!
The Best Sleeping Position for Sleep Apnea
Since sleep apnea occurs due to a collapse of the airways that temporarily prevents breathing until you wake up, staying off your back is one of the best ways in which you can help your sleep apnea. The repositioning of your airways will keep gravity on your side and help prevent the collapse. However, moderate to severe sleep apnea also requires the use of a CPAP machine, which will create air pressure that keeps the airways open during the night. There are also breathing devices that reposition the jaw as you sleep if you cannot tolerate a CPAP.
For mild sleep apnea or to use the repositioning tactic in conjunction with a CPAP or mouth positioner, use the Rest Rite Sleep Positioner to help stay off your back and reduce your symptoms. Unlike a traditional sleep apnea pillow, Rest Rite Sleep Positioner is fixed directly to your back and will comfortably help keep you on your side or stomach. It’s a one-time use, travel-ready, and disposable product that will not bother you or your spouse, and it works best for cases of mild sleep apnea. Again, we must stress the importance of visiting a sleep professional prior to your use of this device. If they give you the go-ahead, order yours today to reduce the effects of mild sleep apnea!