The main symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea are loud snoring, gasping, or choking during sleep. Other less familiar signs of this condition may surprise you. Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that causes the throat muscles to relax repeatedly during sleep. This blocks your air passage and interrupts your breathing.
If left untreated, sleep apnea increases the risk of cardiovascular conditions such as high blood pressure, heart attacks, and strokes. Loud snoring, pauses in breathing during sleep, and waking up gasping or choking are common symptoms of this condition. But other signs of obstructive sleep apnea might surprise you.
6 less familiar signs of sleep apnea.
1 You always seem to have a headache in the morning
Most mornings you wake up with a headache, which can last for several hours after you get up. The pain is usually localized in the front of your head and on both sides. You may feel like your head is being squeezed.
2 You can’t concentrate during the day
You may have trouble concentrating because obstructive sleep apnea prevents you from getting enough restful sleep. Write down how often you have trouble concentrating at work, school, or on a project. You may also fall asleep or doze off while reading, watching TV, or driving.
3 You have mood changes, such as feeling irritable or depressed.
You may feel angry or annoyed frequently, even for slight annoyances. You may also feel generally down, depressed or sad and cry frequently.
4 You constantly sweat while you sleep
Regularly waking up to sweaty sheets and pajamas can be a sign of obstructive sleep apnea.
5 You’re rarely in the mood for sex
Obstructive sleep apnea can lower your libido.
6 You often wake up with a sore throat, but you’re not sick
You may wake up with a dry and/or sore throat due to repeated gasping, choking, and blockage of airflow during sleep.
Obstructive sleep apnea is a serious medical condition. Consult your doctor if you regularly experience symptoms or if your partner regularly complains about your snoring.
Wellman A, et al. Sleep apnea. In: Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine. 20th ed. McGraw-Hill; 2018. Accessed Jan. 20, 2020.
Kline LR, et al. Clinical presentation and diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea in adults. . Accessed Jan. 20, 2020.
Sleep apnea. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Accessed Jan. 20, 2020.