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What Are The Symptoms Of Sleep Apnea?

June 3, 2024

Have you ever felt you stopped breathing while sleeping at night, and your brain tries to protect you by waking you up to breathe? If yes, then you may be suffering from Sleep Apnea. To check if you really suffer from it, let us identify "What are the symptoms of sleep apnea."

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep Apnea is a condition when the breathing stops and starts several times during sleep. The term "apnea" comes from the Greek word meaning "breathless." Sleep apnea occurs either due to a blockage of the airway (obstructive sleep apnea) or because the brain doesn't deliver signals to the muscles that control breathing (central sleep apnea).

When breathing stops, the resulting lack of oxygen triggers a survival reflex that briefly wakes you up to resume breathing. While this reflex is crucial for survival, it disrupts your sleep cycle, preventing deep, restorative sleep. This causes several health issues, including increased stress on the heart, which can have serious, potentially life-threatening consequences.

There are 3 types of sleep apnea:

  1. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA): It is the most common form that occurs due to a physical blockage of the airway. It occurs, especially when the soft tissue at the back of your throat collapses during sleep.
  2. Central Sleep Apnea (CSA): It is not very common and happens when your brain fails to send signals to the muscles that are in charge of breathing.
  3. Complex Sleep Apnea Syndrome: Also known as treatment-emergent central sleep apnea, this condition is a mix of OSA and CSA.

10 Common Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

The common symptoms of sleep apnea vary based on the type and severity of the condition. Here are some of the most common symptoms to watch out for:

Loud Snoring

One of the most noticeable and frequent symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea is loud snoring. You snore when air flows through relaxed tissues in your throat and causes them to vibrate.

Episodes of Stopped Breathing

If you or a bed partner notice episodes where you stop breathing during sleep, this is a hallmark sign of sleep apnea. These episodes are often followed by choking or gasping sounds as the body resumes breathing.

Gasping or Choking During Sleep

People with sleep apnea wake up with a feeling of choking or gasping for air. This reflexive response occurs when the body detects a drop in blood oxygen levels, urging you to wake up to resume normal breathing.

Frequent Nighttime Awakenings

Repeated interruptions in breathing cause frequent awakenings throughout the night. While these awakenings may be brief, and you may not fully remember them, they prevent you from achieving deep, restorative sleep.

Excessive Daytime Sleepiness (Hypersomnia)

People with sleep apnea suffer from daytime sleepiness as they are not able to sleep at night. This gives them a strong urge to nap during the day, difficulty staying awake during activities, or falling asleep at inappropriate times, such as while driving.

Morning Headaches

Waking up with headaches is another common symptom. These headaches are caused by fluctuations in blood oxygen levels and poor sleep quality.

Dry Mouth or Sore Throat

People with sleep apnea sometimes wake up with a dry mouth or sore throat. This occurs because they often breathe through their mouth during sleep, especially when nasal passages are blocked.

Difficulty Staying Asleep (Insomnia)

Sleep apnea can cause difficulty in maintaining sleep, leading to insomnia. The frequent awakenings and disrupted sleep cycles make it hard to stay asleep for long periods.

Irritability and Mood Changes

Chronic sleep deprivation related to sleep apnea leads to irritability, mood swings, and even symptoms of depression.

Difficulty Concentrating and Memory Problems

People with sleep apnea struggle with cognitive functions such as concentration, attention, and memory. The brain requires restful sleep to function optimally, and the constant interruptions in sleep hinder this process.

Symptoms of Central Sleep Apnea

While many symptoms overlap between obstructive and central sleep apnea, CSA has some distinct signs:

  • No snoring: Unlike OSA, CSA usually does not involve snoring, as the issue lies in the brain's signaling rather than a physical blockage.
  • Periodic Breathing Patterns: CSA may be characterized by Cheyne-Stokes respiration, a distinct pattern of breathing with an increase and then decrease in breathing effort and airflow.

When to See a Doctor?

If you experience any symptoms of Sleep apnea, you can consult with our experienced team at Quality Sleep Solutions. We want you to experience measurable and reliable improvement in the quality of your sleep, be energized and rested, and improve your overall health.


It is important to diagnose the symptoms of Sleep Apnea and treat it as early as possible. From loud snoring and episodes of stopped breathing to excessive daytime sleepiness and morning headaches, these signs can significantly impact your quality of life and overall health. If you think you or your loved one is suffering from sleep apnea, you must seek medical advice.

At Quality Sleep Solutions, we help you achieve a better quality of sleep and a healthier life. Located in South Carolina, we offer comprehensive solutions for managing sleep apnea. Book an appointment online to experience a better quality of sleep. For more information, call us at:

  • Summerville: (843) 380-8945
  • Charleston: (843) 380-8924
  • James Island: (843) 380-8935
  • Camden: (843) 380-8914
  • Lugoff: (843) 380-8955

Your path to restful nights and energized days begins here.


The common symptoms of sleep apnea are loud snoring, stopped breathing during sleep, gasping for air during sleep, frequent awakenings, and excessive daytime sleepiness. If you experience any of these symptoms, you may be suffering from sleep apnea.

Untreated sleep apnea can cause serious health conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, etc.

Lifestyle changes such as losing weight, avoiding alcohol and sedatives, quitting smoking, and sleeping on your side can reduce the severity of sleep apnea symptoms.

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