3 Signs You Could Have Sleep Apnea—And Why You Should Address It Now

Your partner says you snore or gasp in your sleep.

When you go to bed, all of your muscles relax, including the air path at the back of your throat. If that path becomes too small or “floppy,” air struggles to get through, Goldberg says. As a result, you may gasp or choke in your sleep. However, unless someone tells you they’ve witnessed this happening, you may be in the dark. Physical signs of interrupted breathing aren’t always something that wakes you up, Goldberg says.

A “floppy” air path can also cause the muscles surrounding it to vibrate, resulting in a snoring sound. It’s another tricky symptom to identify because unless someone tells you, you won’t know that it’s happening. “When we’re asleep, we don’t know what we’re doing, but a witness may say, ‘Boy, that snoring is bad,’” Goldberg says. Keep in mind that snoring isn’t always related to sleep apnea and not everyone who has sleep apnea snores. But if you experience snoring as well as other symptoms on this list, you should speak to your doctor.

You’re always tired.

Deep, REM (rapid eye movement) sleep relaxes your body so you can get the rest you need. But if you stop breathing at night, your body’s emergency responses will push you into a lighter stage of sleep so it can tell your muscles to tighten up and help you breathe. Less time spent in a deep, rejuvenating sleep, means you’ll likely wake up feeling tired and groggy. (This 10-minute trick will wake you up more than caffeine does.) You may also experience irritability, increased hunger, and find it difficult to concentrate.

You always wake up to use the bathroom.

While you may just have to lay off the beverages before bedtime, waking up to use the bathroom could be a sign that you have sleep apnea. (These are the 10 other reasons you always have to pee in the middle of the night.) When the body is constantly making an effort to help you breathe, it releases a hormone that can cause increased urination. However, the only way to figure out whether your nighttime bathroom trips are related to sleep apnea is to talk to your doctor.

What now?

If you’ve been experiencing some of these symptoms, there’s no need for an emergency trip to the doctor, Goldberg says, but you should voice your concerns next time you have a checkup. Alternatively, you could make an appointment at a sleep center. If your doctor thinks you might have the condition, she’ll either recommend that you sleep under medical observation or use a home testing device to measure your sleep patterns.

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