Sleep Apnea: Symptoms & Signs

Sleep apnea, or the cessation of breathing for short periods during sleep, can cause symptoms at night as well as troublesome symptoms during the day or waking hours. At night, sleep apnea is often associated with

  • snoring,
  • gasping for breath,
  • restlessness, and
  • poor quality sleep (insomnia).

The lack of quality sleep can cause symptoms that occur during the daylight or waking hours such as

  • tiredness,
  • sleepiness,
  • headaches,
  • trouble concentrating or paying attention,
  • poor memory,
  • mood changes, and
  • sexual dysfunction.

When complications arise, more serious symptoms can occur, such as irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias).

Sleep apnea causes

Sleep apnea is either due to a problem with the brain, such that the muscles of breathing are not activated during sleep (central sleep apnea) or collapse of the airway during sleep (obstructive sleep apnea).

REFERENCE:

Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/14/2016

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