Sleep apnea has been getting a lot more attention in the media lately – mostly because more and more people are realizing what it is and why it’s dangerous.
Basically, sleep apnea is a disorder that causes you to stop breathing during sleep. During this brief ‘break’ in breathing, the brain will wake you up, which will generally cause you to gasp for air – though the wake-up is so brief that you will likely not realize that it’s happening. Depending upon the severity of the apnea, this may continue over and over again for hours – depriving you of sleep and keeping you from getting a quality rest.
Many people associate snoring with sleep apnea, mostly because it is one of the most common symptoms – but contrary to what many people might think, snoring isn’t always present in sleep apnea cases.
Here’s what you need to know.
There are two types of sleep apnea
There are two different types of sleep apnea. One is called obstructive sleep apnea, while the other is called central sleep apnea.
Obstructive sleep apnea is basically a problem caused by physical airway blockage. Usually, the airway collapses in on itself during sleep, causing you to stop breathing because you can’t get enough oxygen.
Information! This type of apnea generally comes with snoring, but it doesn’t always have to. Some cases of obstructive sleep apnea don’t display common side effects like snoring – despite the fact that they are serious and still causing major sleep-related problems.
Central sleep apnea, on the other hand, has to do with the brain. In this type of sleep apnea, the brain stops telling the muscles to breathe – and a similar effect is achieved. This type of sleep apnea is less likely to be accompanied by snoring, though it sometimes still is.
What does all of this mean?
Basically, this means that the answer to the question is a yes. You can have sleep apnea without snoring – though it isn’t as common as sleep apnea that occurs with snoring.
One problem is that sleep apnea can be difficult to spot if snoring doesn’t occur, as snoring is usually the primary indicator of the problem. But there are some other side effects that can point to the disorder regardless. These can include…
- Excessive daytime tiredness
- Waking up more than once during the night
- Getting up to use the bathroom often during the night
- Early morning headaches
- Concentration/memory problems
- Problems with your mood
Obviously, the most telling sign of sleep apnea of any kind is a brief cessation of breathing for several seconds – usually followed by a sharp or deep inhalation, as if the person had just been holding their breath.
This is easier to spot when snoring is occurring, but it can also be identified in a sleep apnea sufferer who isn’t snoring.
What should you do if you fear that you or a sleeping partner might be suffering from sleep apnea?
If you fear that you or a sleeping partner might be suffering from sleep apnea, you might want to visit the doctor for a diagnosis. Sometimes, sleep apnea is a temporary problem that only occurs during specific events, such as during an upper-respiratory infection, when the person is congested, when they are suffering from allergies, etc.
But for some people, sleep apnea is a regular occurrence.
At any rate, a sleep study can confirm if the person is indeed suffering from the disorder – and once you find out that they are, you will have a wide variety of different treatment options to consider.
The most important thing, however, is that you do something about it. Sleep apnea is no joke. It can destroy your quality of sleep, and can keep you from getting the kind of rest you need. This can lead to a myriad of other health problems, and can contribute to a number of conditions down the road. It can also hurt your performance at work or make you more likely to fall asleep driving – which would be very dangerous.