5 Signs of Sleep Apnea


An estimated 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea. This troublesome disorder, which causes a person to stop breathing repeatedly during sleep, can lead to serious — even life-threatening — complications.

At Prima Medicine, with locations in Fairfax and South Riding, Virginia, our sleep experts are committed to helping patients sleep well and stay in excellent health. Our practice offers comprehensive help for patients with sleep apnea, including different treatment options to meet different lifestyle needs. 

To help you identify whether you may be suffering from sleep apnea, we take a look at the top five signs of this common sleep disorder.

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a condition in which your breathing is interrupted repeatedly during sleep. There are three kinds of sleep apnea: obstructive, central, and complex sleep apnea. With all three types, you wake up briefly to breathe before going back to sleep. You may not be aware of doing this, but this can happen dozens — even hundreds — of times a night.

Obstructive sleep apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type of sleep apnea. With this type, the muscles in the throat relax too much during sleep, cutting off the airway. 

Central sleep apnea

With central sleep apnea, the brain doesn’t send the right signals to your throat muscles. So you don’t breathe when you should.

Complex sleep apnea

Complex sleep apnea is a condition in which someone has both obstructive and central sleep apnea.

Signs you may have sleep apnea

If you have any of the following symptoms, you may have sleep apnea.

1. Fatigue or daytime drowsiness

If you often wake up tired or experience daytime drowsiness, these could be signs of sleep apnea. As mentioned, sleep apnea can interrupt your sleep many times throughout the night as your body struggles to take in oxygen. As a result, this could keep you from getting a good night’s sleep and therefore hinder your ability to function well throughout the day. 

2. Restless or noisy sleeping

One of the most common signs of sleep apnea is snoring. But even if you don’t snore, you may notice that you spend the night tossing and turning, thrashing and kicking, or even jerking away under a tangle of twisted sheets. This is because as you struggle to breathe, it can disrupt your sleep and cause you discomfort and stress.  

3. Weight troubles

Have you struggled to lose weight, even after following a healthy diet and exercise plan? Sleep apnea may be the cause, because it can disrupt your stress hormone levels. As these levels rise, you may feel hungrier than you should, or your body may hold on to excess weight as it prepares for duress.  

4. Morning headaches

The frequent nighttime wakings caused by sleep apnea can trigger morning headaches. If you wake up with headaches that meet one or more of the following, you may have sleep apnea:

  • Having a headache upon waking more than 15 times a month
  • The headaches resolves within four hours
  • The headaches occur on both sides of your head, do not include nausea, sensitivity to light, or sensitivity to sound, and feel like pressure in your head

Discuss your headache symptoms with your provider at Prima Medicine to rule out other potential causes. 

5. Chronic sore throat or dry mouth

Struggling to take in air all night can dry out your mouth and throat. If you wake up with a sore throat more days than not, or if you notice that your mouth is especially dry when you get up in the morning, be sure to discuss the possibility of sleep apnea with your provider.  

What can I do about sleep apnea?

If you suspect you may have sleep apnea, don’t wait to get help. There are many ways the providers at Prima Medicine can help you sleep better. Depending on your symptoms and lifestyle, some treatment options could include:

  • Lifestyle changes
  • Changing sleeping positions
  • Breathing-assistance machines
  • Surgical interventions
  • Dental devices

To see if you have sleep apnea and to get treatment if you do, book an appointment online or over the phone with Prima Medicine today.

Schedule a Consultation

* All indicated fields must be completed. Please include non-medical questions and correspondence only.
By entering your phone number, you agree to receive text messages according to our terms of use and privacy policy.

Accessibility Toolbar