Sleep disorders are difficult to notice by oneself, unless they cause you to wake up. It is with the help of people around us that we are able to tell that we have a problem. However, for symptoms that slip through to daytime, affecting our ability to perform, we can easily patch pieces together and peg them to a certain disorder. Here are five signs that you might have sleep apnea.
Excessive Daytime Sleep
In today’s world, where everyone is in a rush and under pressure, trying to beat deadlines and reach certain goals, chances are that you sleep late and wake up early and end up not having enough sleep. As a result, you struggle to stay awake during the day. That is normal. You may doze off, lose concentration or be irritable. That is fine as well. However, if you have the need to take frequent naps during the day despite having adequate or prolonged sleep, or have trouble waking up in the morning consistently, then that is a problem. If you are not under medication which makes you drowsy, but still can barely sit through activities, you should seek medical attention.
Excessive Morning Headaches
Waking up with a headache once in a while is not suggestive of sleep apnea. However, if it occurs often, it is alarming. When you have sleep apnea, your airway is partially or completely blocked during your sleep. The reduced amount of oxygen in your blood flowing to your brain causes the headaches. This headache is different from migraines or headaches caused by tension or noise. Headaches due to reduced oxygen levels tend to fade away when you wake up, because your airway is open and oxygen flow is back to normal. Also, this type of headache does not come at any other time of the day - just in the mornings.
Personality and Mood Changes
How we sleep and wake influences how we face the day. If your biological clock is off track, you may experience irritability, aggression, depression, anxiety and mood swings. Normally, when your ability to have restful sleep is inhibited, you become cranky. Individuals with sleep apnea have it worse, because they are dealing with many other additional symptoms that affect them in different ways and as a result are more irritable.
Attention and Concentration Problems
Sleep apnea not only causes a dip in concentration, but your attention span becomes shorter as well. If you have not slept well and are struggling to stay awake through the day, you may quickly lose focus and be barely able to concentrate on your tasks.
Excessive Daytime Fatigue
You may think that you have had adequate sleep because you were in bed all night. However, the sleep interruptions and pauses that sleep apnea often causes, with or without your knowledge, add up to a lot of lost quality and quantity of sleep. This results in fatigue, as your body and brain are not functioning at their optimum levels and all your body is thinking of is more sleep. When you are fatigued, you go through deconditioning which makes you unable to perform physical tasks which you would otherwise perform normally.
Untreated sleep apnea may be responsible for poor performance in everyday activities, such as at work and school, for motor vehicle crashes, and for academic underachievement in students. It is important to seek medical help once you notice symptoms of sleep apnea. You should also consider changing your diet and other lifestyle modifications that will improve your quality of sleep so that your body can function properly.
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