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Detailed information on sleep symptoms

If you or someone close to you answers "yes" to any of the questions below, discuss your symptoms with your physician or a sleep specialist such as Doctors Thornton and Baker. The more "yes" answers, the more important it is that you get help.

Different treatment options exist; which one is right for you depends upon the severity of your apnea and other aspects of the sleep disorder. Untreated sleep apnea can be extremely serious and cannot be ignored.



  1: Are you a loud, habitual snorer?      

Snoring is noisy breathing during sleep. It is a common problem among all ages and both genders, and it affects approximately 90 million American adults 37 million on a regular basis.

Snoring may occur nightly or intermittently. Persons most at risk are males and those who are overweight, but snoring is a problem of both genders, although it is possible that women do not present with this complaint as frequently as men.

Snoring usually becomes more serious as people age. It can cause disruptions to your own sleep and your bed-partner's sleep. It can lead to fragmented and un-refreshing sleep which translates into poor daytime function (tiredness and sleepiness). It does not seem to be associated with cardiovascular problems (hypertension, strokes, heart attacks), although this is still a matter which is under investigation.

  Learn more about snoring, from the National Sleep Foundation:

Snoring in the Sleeptionary

Snoring -- No Laughing Matter


  2. Do you feel tired and groggy on awakening?      

People with sleep apnea tend to be sleep deprived. They may suffer from sleeplessness and a wide range of other symptoms such as difficulty concentrating, depression, irritability, sexual dysfunction, learning and memory difficulties, and falling asleep while at work, on the phone, or driving.

Left untreated, symptoms of sleep apnea can include disturbed sleep, excessive sleepiness during the day, high blood pressure, heart attack, congestive heart failure, cardiac arrhythmia, stroke or depression.

  Learn more about sleepiness, from the National Sleep Foundation:

Sleep Apnea in the Sleeptionary

Keep a Sleepiness Diary


  3. Are you often sleepy during waking hours
    and/or can you fall asleep quickly?

Many people struggle to stay awake during the day, when they need to be fully alert to perform well. You can take the Epworth Sleepiness Scale test to see whether daytime sleeping is a problem for you.

NSF's new Sleepiness Diary can help you keep track of your sleepiness patterns and compare them with how long you've slept the night before and how often you battle sleepiness with naps or caffeine and other stimulants.

  4. Are you overweight and/or do you have a large neck?      

Obstructive Sleep Apnea affects 4 to 6 percent of adults and 1 to 3 percent of children, according to the American Sleep Apnea Association. It occurs in all age groups and both sexes, but there are a number of factors that increase risk, including:

  • having a small upper airway (or large tongue, tonsils or uvula)
  • being overweight
  • having a recessed chin, small jaw or a large overbite
  • a large neck size (17 inches or greater in a man, or 16 inches or greater in a woman)
  • smoking and alcohol use
  • being age 40 or older
  • ethnicity (African-Americans, Pacific-Islanders and Hispanics).

Also, sleep apnea seems to run in some families, suggesting a possible genetic basis.

  5. Have you been observed to choke, gasp, or
    hold your breath during sleep?

If you or someone close to you answers "yes" to any of the above questions, you should discuss your symptoms with your physician or a sleep specialist such as Doctors Thornton and Baker. Or ask the American Sleep Apnea Association (ASAA) for more information on the diagnosis and treatment of sleep apnea.

You may also be interested in attending a meeting of an ASAA A.W.A.K.E. group. (A.W.A.K.E. stands for "Alert, Well, And Keeping Energetic," characteristics that are uncommon in people with untreated sleep apnea.) Contact the ASAA for more information about one in your area.

    Information above is copyrighted by the National Sleep Foundation and the American Sleep Apnea Association, and is used by permission. It may not be copied or used further without permission from NSF and ASAA.  

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NOTE: Sleep health information discussed at this website is for educational purposes. Each individual is different and may have varying symptoms, diagnosis and treatments. If you are having sleep health problems, obtain professional medical advice.