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What are the Early Warning Signs of Sleep Apnoea?

Is your sleeping disturbed, or are you exhausted? You may have a condition called sleep apnoea. This condition occurs when your breathing stops and starts while you are asleep. The most common variation is called Obstructive Sleep Apnoea or OSA, where the walls of the throat relax and narrow while you sleep. Getting treatment for sleep apnoea is essential because the condition can lead to significant problems, such as high blood pressure or diabetes. It can also damage relationships as partners are often affected by the disturbance. So what signs of sleep apnoea that you should be aware of to get help from a dentist or doctor?

Breathing Pauses or Gasps in Your Sleep

Breathing pauses is one of the serious effects of sleep apnoea and is sometimes frightening to experience. It disturbs your sleep, so you wake up unrefreshed and excessively tired.


Snoring is a common sign you have sleep apnoea. When air cannot move freely through the air passages due to a floppy throat, it rattles, causing a snoring noise as it moves through the airway. Snoring will disturb your sleep pattern and that of other people.

Waking up Tired, Even After a Full Night of Sleep

If you find you have had a whole night of sleep but are still waking up tired, you may have problems with sleep apnoea. When someone with obstructive sleep apnoea experiences deep sleep, their throat muscles relax and block their airways. The low oxygen levels in the blood cause them to wake. Often, people with OSA are unaware they have a problem but always feel exhausted.

A Headache Upon Waking

Do you have a headache when you wake up? Sleep apnoea could be because a low oxygen level or disturbed sleeping patterns can lead to headaches. If you notice a headache like this, you may need to seek medical help.

Waking Up Frequently During the Night for No Reason

Often, the person with sleep apnoea is entirely unaware they have a problem. Your breathing problems may cause sleep disturbances which lead to waking frequently. Of course, once you have woken up a few times, settling and going back to sleep can be difficult, so you have a restless night.

Feeling Sleepy or Exhausted During the Day

Once you start experiencing sleepless nights from snoring and sleep apnoea, you will get very little rest. Sleeplessness leads to exhaustion and feeling sleepy during the day. It could be dangerous to drive. Sleep apnoea is associated with a significantly higher risk (2-7 fold) of a road traffic accident, so getting help is essential.

Need for Frequent Naps

Exhaustion from a lack of sleep is common in sleep apnoea. If you find you are craving a nap during the day, it could be a sign you have a problem with sleep apnoea, and it is time to get checked out by a doctor.

Problems with Memory or Concentration

A good reason to get help for sleep apnoea is that poor sleeping patterns can lead to a cognitive decline in your health and memory loss. If you notice you are more forgetful than usual, it is time to get advice from a medical professional to assess whether you have sleep apnoea or another problem.

Cranky or Short Tempered, Frequently Agitated

Has someone told you that you are more cranky than usual? If you notice you get agitated quickly, your poor sleeping patterns could be causing the problem as you are exhausted, which could be one of the signs of sleep apnoea.

Waking Up to Use the Restroom More than a Few Times

Waking to use the restroom more than twice a night could signal you have sleep apnoea. Usually, urine production decreases at night. However, breathing disruptions in sleep apnoea alter the pressure in the chest, reducing oxygen levels. This action leads to a hormone being released which causes increased urination at night.

Better Sleep, Better Life

If you think you have signs of sleep apnoea, getting help for your health and safety and the wellbeing of others is essential. You can speak to your doctor about treatment options such as Continuous Positive Airway Pressure or a healthier lifestyle for example. A dentist can also help with guards and other dental treatments.

If you have sleep apnoea and want to discuss options with a dentist, call us to discuss how we can help. It may make a significant difference to your health.