8 Common Signs of Sleep Apnea In Adults

Everyone goes through sleep problems at some point in their lives. After a bad night’s sleep, people can feel tired, cranky, and even experience trouble focusing on their day-to-day activities.

One bad night’s sleep is easily fixed, but when you’re dealing with days or even weeks of poor sleep quality, that’s a big problem. Sleep quality directly ties into a person's overall health, and not sleeping well can increase your risk for diseases such as diabetes or even heart disease.

A common culprit for poor sleep quality is sleep apnea, a disorder that makes your breathing stop and start again while you sleep. Sleep apnea doesn’t just affect how well you can rest - it’s a serious health condition that requires medical attention.

What Is Sleep Apnea and Is It Common?

Sleep apnea reportedly affects around 15-30% of US adult males, and 10-15% of adult females, but even children can suffer from this disorder. 

Essentially, this sleeping disorder causes your airway to collapse or become obstructed while you sleep. Because of this, you temporarily stop breathing during the night. This is called “obstructive sleep apnea,” and it’s the most common type

There is also “central sleep apnea,” which is a lot rarer, and a lot more complex. People who suffer from central sleep apnea stop breathing during their sleep because their brains don’t send out the right signals to the muscles necessary for breathing.

What Causes Sleep Apnea?

Many factors can lead to sleep apnea:

  • Gender (men are more at risk)
  • Age (risk increases as you get older)
  • Being overweight
  • Physical abnormalities in the nose or airways
  • Family history of the disorder
  • Nose congestion
  • Lifestyle factors (smoking)
  • Medical conditions like diabetes or heart disease

Sleep apnea puts people at risk for serious complications. Whether you have a higher risk or not, it’s important to look out for the signs and seek treatment at our San Francisco dental office as soon as you suspect something might be wrong.

8 Common Signs of Sleep Apnea in Adults

Here are some of the most telling signs you may be suffering from sleep apnea. If you notice any of them in yourself, it’s incredibly important to see a doctor as soon as possible and get the right treatment:

1. Loud Snoring

Snoring can be caused by many factors, such as being overweight or having a bit too much to drink before you go to bed.

But it’s also a telling sign you may be suffering from sleep apnea. If your partner notices your snoring is getting worse, and you don’t have a potential cause for it, it’s a good idea to see a doctor.

2. Waking up with Shortness of Breath

Sleep apnea stops your breathing temporarily, which may kickstart an emergency “wake up call” in your body. People with central sleep apnea will often wake up in the middle of the night, feeling out of breath.

3. Not Breathing

Your partner may be a better help in determining if you have sleep apnea than you. For instance, if they notice you stop breathing in your sleep, this is a clear sign of the disorder. If they didn’t mention it, ask your partner if they’ve ever noticed this behavior.

4. Feeling Tired

Although you are technically sleeping, sleep apnea can lead to fatigue. When you don’t breathe properly you are not fueling your brain and body with enough oxygen, which can affect both mental and physiological processes

This can lead to you feeling exhausted even after a full night’s sleep. Over time, sleep apnea can even increase your risk of physical injury, especially if you work in an environment that requires you to stay alert.

5. Brain Fog

Because you’re not resting or getting enough oxygen to your brain, sleep apnea can slowly reduce mental clarity. You may start having problems concentrating even on simple tasks, have memory issues, and in general find your mental performance is a bit low.

6. Dry Throat in the Morning

Sleep apnea can also cause mouth breathing, which will lead to a sore or dry throat in the morning. If the airway is blocked your body may try to resume breathing through your mouth.

7. Not Sleeping Through the Night

People dealing with sleep apnea can also have difficulty staying asleep. You may doze off quickly, but you will wake up a few times in the middle of the night because your body is trying to wake you up.

8. Mood Swings

Not sleeping well directly impacts your mood. People with sleep apnea often experience heightened irritability.

How Is Sleep Apnea Treated?

Treatment for sleep apnea requires improving your airways to allow oxygen to properly fuel your system.

The most common course of action is Continuous Positive Airway Pressure Therapy (CPAP), which involves a machine connected to a mask that fits over the patient's nose and mouth. The tube that connects the mask to the machine delivers air which helps you get continuous oxygen while you sleep.

But, there are also many other things you can do to lessen the severity of sleep apnea, depending on what’s causing it in the first place. For instance, if the disorder is linked to being overweight, losing weight can help reduce your symptoms and improve your sleep quality.

Other strategies to improve sleep apnea can include:

  • Not sleeping on your back
  • Using nasal sprays or medication to reduce nasal congestion
  • Stop smoking
  • Avoiding alcohol
  • Open the airway with a dental appliance, etc.

How We Can Help with Your Sleep Apnea in San Francisco

If you suspect you may be suffering from sleep apnea, our Airway Analysis scan can help you determine what abnormalities may be causing your breathing and sleeping issues.

Dr. Joyce Stein will perform the scan and closely inspect the results in order to determine what types of blockages are causing your discomfort. It’s the first step you need to take to determine, beyond a shadow of a doubt, whether you have this sleeping disorder.

Book a consultation at Sutter Dental Collective in San Francisco to get started.

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