Identifying Sleep Apnea Symptoms, Types & Finding the Right Sleep Apnea Solutions

Snoring and sleep apnea can go hand in hand. In fact, snoring is one of the most common sleep apnea symptoms. If at night, you all of a sudden wake up and feel like you’re out of breath, there’s a good chance you have sleep apnea. If you or your loved one snores, it’s not just an annoying habit, it can actually be one of the most common sleep apnea symptoms. Although it is common, it can be considered serious sleep disorder.

What is Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a common sleeping disorder. In which you have one or more pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while you sleep. Breathing pauses can last from a few seconds to several minutes. They may occur 30 times or more in an hour. Typically, normal breathing then starts again, sometimes with a loud snort or choking sound.

Sleep Apnea Types

There are three main sleep apnea types.  They are called obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea and complex sleep apnea syndrome. Let’s break each of them down to help you identify what type of sleep apnea you may have.

Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common form of sleep apnea. It happens when the muscles in your throat relax. When these muscles relax, the soft tissue they support collapses and narrow the passages you use to breathe, making it difficult to breathe.

Central sleep apnea occurs when your brain doesn’t properly send signals to the muscles that control your breathing. This is essentially a communication problem. Unlike obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea will make it so you have periods where your body entirely stops breathing.

Complex sleep apnea syndrome can also be called treatment-emergent central sleep. It happens when someone has a combination of obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea. Because this is a combination of both, it is the most difficult to treat.

Sleep Apnea Symptoms

There are ways to help you identify what type of sleep apnea you have. Remember, some of the sleep apnea symptoms can overlap, making it difficult to pinpoint what type of sleep apnea you have. Knowing that, here are the most common signs and sleep apnea symptoms:

Light or Heavy Snoring

You know the sound. For some it’s become so common it’s just a way of life. Very loud snoring is usually a strong sign you have sleep apnea.  Snoring occurs because of obstructed airways and can usually tied to obstructive sleep apnea.

Not Breathing or Lack of Breathing

This sleep apnea symptom can be hard to identify. Unless, you have a partner or friend who has witnessed it during your sleep. If you do not have someone that has seen this happen, then you can look for other signs. If you find yourself suddenly waking up in the middle of the night, feeling out of breath, then there’s a strong likelihood you were not breathing. Lack of regular  breathing cycles is usually tied to central sleep apnea.

Dry Mouth or Sore Throat

A sore throat also can be tied to snoring. Your throat can become irritated the more you snore. The dry mouth comes from constantly waking up and gasping for breath.

Headache When You Wake Up

Our bodies need oxygen to function properly. A lack of oxygen because of breathing troubles can lead to you waking up with a headache. The headache occurs because your blood is filled with carbon dioxide and not fresh oxygen.

Not Sleeping (Insomnia)

There are people who have a hard time falling and staying asleep. Some people who have sleep apnea may experience difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep and getting back to sleep after they awake in the middle of the night.

Daytime Sleep (Hypersomnia)

Because snoring and sleep apnea can have a significant impact on your quality of sleep, many people find themselves sleepy during the day. Not just a little tired, but excessively sleeping during the day.

Lack of Focus

Study after study have shown that our minds do not work properly when you do not have enough sleep. That can lead to an inability to concentrate on tasks at work or school.

Memory Problems

Along the same lines as paying attention, storing new information (learning new things) becomes very difficult when the brain did not get the sleep (and oxygen) it needs. If you have memory problems, sleep apnea may be a culprit.

Feeling Overly Irritated or Frustrated

Parents tell their kids all the time, ‘You’re crying because you’re tired.’ While adults may not always cry when they’re tired, being tired does affect their mood, but usually in a different way. The most common forms are irritability, anxiety and in some cases depression.

Sleep Apnea Risk Factors

If you found yourself identifying with one or more of the sleep apnea symptoms, there are other risk factors that you should consider.  These factors put you in a greater risk for having or developing sleep apnea. Some of these risk factors are things you can change, while others are unavoidable.

In addition, men are more likely to have sleep apnea, but women can have it too.

Since there are different types of sleep apnea, let’s identify the risk factors for obstructive sleep apnea and the risk factors for central sleep apnea.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

  • Male
  • 40 years old or older
  • Overweight/obese
  • Large neck - 16” or more for women and 17” or more for men
  • Large tongue or tonsils
  • Small jaw bone
  • Family members who have sleep apnea
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) - esophagus doesn’t properly close
  • Nasal obstruction through either allergies, sinus problems or deviated septum

Central Sleep Apnea

  • Male
  • 65 years old or older
  • Heart disorders like congestive heart failure or atrial fibrillation
  • Stroke
  • Brain tumor
  • Brainstem lesion
  • High altitude
  • You take opioids, illegal and prescription

Sleep Apnea & Your Health

Sleep apnea does more than just impact sleep at night. Left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to chronic health problems like:

  • Heart attack
  • Heart failure
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Depression
  • Chronic headache

Time to See a Doctor

By now you’ve probably identified a few of the sleep apnea symptoms and maybe even identify with a few of the risk factors. If that’s you, you’re probably wondering if this is something you need to talk to your doctor about.

While some of the sleep apnea symptoms could be tied to other things, these four are clear signs that it’s time to do something about your sleep apnea, possibly even seeing a doctor.

  • You snore so loud you wake up other people in the room or even house
  • You suddenly wake up out of breath, gasping for air or even choking
  • Someone sees you experience pauses in your breathing
  • You fall asleep during daily activities, putting the safety of you and others at risk

Not everyone who snores has sleep apnea. And if that’s the case, there are things you can do stop your snoring and improve your quality of life. ZenSleep has several products that we recommend you consider to immediately put a stop to your snoring.

Be Prepared for Your Doctors Visit

When you meet with your doctor, be sure to tell them about all of your symptoms. It’s a good idea to make a list of the symptoms you have and experience. Take that list with you. If you can make a calendar and document what symptom happened and when, the better your doctor can help diagnose your sleeping disorder.

Talking with Your Doctor

Make sure you talk to your doctor if your snoring is loud and punctuated by periods of silence. This is a sign you have both obstructive and central sleep apnea.

Tell them if you’re chronically fatigued, sleepy and/or irritable. Tell them if you are constantly tired during the day and it’s impacting your ability to perform at work or school.

Tell them about other symptoms you’re experiencing that you may not think are tied to sleep apnea. Remember, they’re the doctor, not you. They have years of training and the more information they have about what’s going on in your body, the better chance they have to help get you relief.

What the Doctor will Want to Know

Know that your doctor has a list of questions that he’ll want answers to as they try to find a diagnoses. If you know those questions in advance, you can be prepared and avoid a follow-up visit.

  • How long have you had these symptoms?
  • How severe are they?
  • Is there a pattern? (This is where the calendar is helpful)
  • Are the symptoms continuous?
  • Do you wake up out of breath at night? How many times?
  • Has someone witnessed you stop breathing?
  • Have you tried any medications that worked?
  • Any medications that made your symptoms worse?

Sleep Apnea Tests

Once a doctor has these answers and determines there is a likelihood you could have sleep apnea, they may refer you to a sleep specialist, to conduct some tests. The tests will help a doctor know what type of sleep apnea you have.

Lab Tests

One test is called the Nocturnal Polysomnography. This comprehensive sleep test is conducted inside a specialized lab. This test will require you to sleep while hooked up to a variety of equipment to monitor your heart, lungs and brain. It will also track your breathing problems, limb movement and oxygen levels.

Home Tests

If going and sleeping in some lab freaks you out, there are home tests you can take. It won’t be as in depth as the polysomnography, but you can still get some answers. A doctor can give a device to measure your heart rate, breathing patterns, airflow and oxygen levels.

Measuring the Results

As you can imagine, these tests produce a TON of data. Each data point is used to calculate specific information to help a doctor discern and diagnose your sleep disorder. This information is key because sometimes what we think we experience and what actually is happening can be different.

Historically, people with sleep apnea can overestimate several things like:

  • Total amount of sleep
  • Quality of sleep
  • Sleep cycles
  • How often/times you wake up at night
  • Breathing patterns

Apnea-Hypopnea Index (AHI)

The test will calculate your apnea-hypopnea index. This is an important number because your AHI number is the number of apneas (cessation of breathing that lasts at least 10 seconds) and/or hypopneas (constricted breathing lasting at least 10 seconds) you experience in an hour of sleep. Your number will help a doctor know if you have sleep apnea and how severe it is.

AHI

Mild — 5-15

Moderate — 15-30

Severe — 30+

Sleep Apnea Treatments

Treating sleep apnea is possible. There are home remedies, medical treatments, lifestyle changes and products you can try to find relief.

Lifestyle Changes

Lifestyle changes should be at the top of your list of things to try. Here are a few to consider

  • Sleep on your side
  • Avoid alcohol 4-6 hours before bedtime
  • Exercise
  • Lose weight
  • Open your sinuses
  • Stop smoking
  • Limit sedative medications that cause your muscles to relax

Medical Devices & Interventions

Medical devices for sleep apnea can range from under a hundred dollars to thousands of dollars. Save yourself the headache and try to find products that are clinically tested and proven to work. In fact, if your sleep apnea is tied to snoring, these devices and sleep apnea solutions are for you because they’re apart of the #1 anti-snoring system of 2017.

Affordable Sleep Apnea Solutions

MOUTH GUARD

zen guard

The ZenGuard is clinically proven device to find instant relief for snoring. With nothing else like it on the market, the ZenGuard is a sleep apnea solution that goes on the outside of your mouth to hold your tongue in place. Using suction, it keeps your tongue from obstructing your airway while you sleep. This product is guaranteed to stop your snoring on the very first night.

NASAL PASSAGES

If you have a deviated septum or sinus problems, opening your nasal passages and allowing more air to flow can help with snoring. ZenVents are a more effective sleep apnea solution than nasal strips and they’re reusable. This device will stop snoring that originates in the nose.

Simple and comfortable to use, you insert them into your nostrils to keep your airways open. No strap over the bridge of your nose, instead just a small silicone band is exposed while you wear it.

JAW SUPPORT

zen strap

Some snoring, and in-turn sleep apnea stems from your jaw relaxing too much, obstructing your ability to breathe. ZenStrap is a sleep apnea solution that promises to instantly stop your snoring by simultaneously supporting your lower jaw while keeping your airways open and unrestricted.

You simply put the comfortable strap around your head, forget it's there and instantly feel the benefits!

Expensive Sleep Apnea Solutions

CONTINUOUS POSITIVE AIRWAY PRESSURE (CPAP)

This device helps relieve sleep apnea by delivering constant air pressure into your airways. Different products can focus on your nose, others your mouth, while a mask can cover both your nose and your mouth.

Sleeping with a CPAP can definitely take some getting used to. Most people can make it work by finding the right mask (mouth, nose or both) and making sure the strap around your head is not too tight.

A good CPAP device is going to cost you several hundred to over a  thousand dollars. So make sure you know the return policy and check the reviews. Because there are so many devices out there and so many preferences, we do not have a specific recommendation.

ALTERNATIVE AIR PRESSURE DEVICES

CPAP machines are not for everyone. If you experience issues with yours, talk to your doctor. They may recommend you use an alternate air pressure device.

  • Auto-CPAP is a little bit different than a traditional CPAP because it automatically adjusts the air pressure while you sleep.
  • BiPap provides two different levels of air pressure. This smart device will send more air when you inhale and less when you exhale.
  • Expiratory Positive Airway Pressure (EPAP) this single use device is placed over each nostril before you go to sleep. It allows the air to normally enter when you inhale, but when you exhale the air has to pass through a tiny channel, which increases the air pressure.

Surgical Options

This is listed last because it should be a last resort, a Hail Mary if nothing else works. Surgery is expensive and has potential risks and side-effects. Having said that, if you’ve tried everything else and your doctor recommends it, you should consider it. Sleep apnea not only impacts your quality of life, it can also be life-threatening. So if more conservative treatments proved fruitless, surgery may provide you some relief.

Tissue Removal

Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty is a long name, but provides results. During this nearly unpronounceable surgery, a doctor will remove the soft tissues from the back of your throat to increase your airways. Part of this surgery often includes the removal of your tonsils and adenoids.

Jaw Repositioning

Similar to oral appliances like the ZenStrap, maxillomandibular advancement permanently moves your jaw forward. This will make obstruction in your airways less likely to happen because it increases how much space you have behind your tongue.

Creation of a New Air Passage

As a last resort to what is already a last resort, you can create a new air passage. A tracheostomy creates a secondary air passage in your throat. Since you only need at night, the tube is kept covered during the day, then uncovered at night. The tube allows you to breathe and have the air entirely bypass your throat and go straight to your lungs.

Frustration & Sleep Apnea Relief  

Snoring and not being able to breathe because of sleep apnea is frustrating. But you and your partner don’t need to be miserable and tired your entire life.

Start finding sleep apnea solutions by making some lifestyle changes. If that doesn't work and your sleep apnea is tied to snoring, try some effective snoring solutions. Try to find products that have reviews and carry a money-back guarantee. That way, if they don’t work out, you aren’t out any money.

For less than $100, this All-in-One Stop-Snoring System is a great sleep apnea solution that is clinically proven to stop snoring. It covers both nasal and mouth snoring and promises results or your money back.

Sleep apnea solutions are out there. Quality sleep and daily productivity are in your future!

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