For people with sleep apnea, sleep is anything but restful. In fact, this condition poses serious health risks for over 18 million people in the US alone. This staggering number represents how people doctors believe might have the condition, as noted by the Sleep Foundation.
People with untreated sleep apnea pause in their breathing throughout the night, leaving them tired even after sleeping for a full night. These pauses, which can happen over 100 times an hour, occur because of an airway that’s blocked or too narrow to allow for normal breathing.
On top of disrupting sleep, undiagnosed sleep apnea has been linked to serious conditions such as memory problems, stroke, diabetes and high blood pressure. Look out for these warning signs of sleep apnea in your significant other.
They are snoring
A milder form of airway obstruction, snoring comes from the vibration of tissue as air passes over. If your significant other snores loudly and chronically, it can be a sign they need to take a test for the condition.
They gasp for air at night
When a person has sleep apnea, it’s common for snorting, choking or gasping to follow their breathing pauses in sleep. The breathing pauses cause oxygen levels in the blood to fall, which signals the brain to wake up and take a breath. In serious cases, a person may experience gasps for air every 30 seconds over the course of a night. If you notice your partner is struggling to breathe during sleep or their breathing is stopping entirely, it’s time for a test.
They’re exhausted all day
While fragmented sleep at night leads to chronic fatigue, sleepiness during the day is one of the most commonly ignored sleep apnea signs. When your partner sleeps for seven hours or more at night but is still sleepy during the day, it’s a sign that they may have sleep apnea and need a test.
They experience morning headaches
A person with sleep apnea may often have a headache in the morning. The pauses in breathing during sleep at night reduce oxygen levels in the brain, which causes pain. As sleep apnea worsens, so may the intensity of these headaches. If you notice your loved one frequently has headaches when they wake up in the morning, contact a professional for a sleep apnea test.
They keep waking up for the bathroom
Known as nocturia, frequent urination at night does affect many adults over the age of 55. However, it’s not just caused by aging. People with sleep apnea may suffer from nocturia, too. The spike in adrenaline that apnea causes can trigger a person’s “flight-or-fight” response, and that in turn causes the feeling of a full bladder. If your partner keeps waking up at night to use the bathroom, it could be a sign they have sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is a serious condition that does more than ruin the quality of a person’s sleep—it can also contribute to other serious health conditions. Contact a professional sleep apnea test provider if you believe your significant other is suffering from this sleep disorder.
A MESSAGE FROM DR. AMY HARTSFIELD:
At TMJ & Sleep Solutions of Alabama, our mission is to provide personalized care to restore quality of life, one patient at a time. If you are experiencing issues with sleep and think you need a test, don’t hesitate to contact us and schedule an appointment!