Written by Dr Sandra Miranda, ND
Sleep apnea is a condition where your breathing is not continuous while you are asleep. Your breathing stops temporarily and this pause in breathing can happen multiple times throughout the night.
Sleep apnea can occur without you even being aware that you have it. It is usually a family member or a spouse that notices - and even then, he or she may not be aware that loud snoring or sudden bursts of gasping for air is a sign of sleep apnea.
The gasping stems from not enough oxygen passing through to your lungs because your air can become blocked as it tries to move through the airways. This condition causes breaks in your sleep and because you are asleep, it escapes your notice.
What you may notice, however, is that it is hard to function in the daytime. You may feel sleep deprived and have a strong urge to take a nap.
Sleep apnea that remains undiagnosed can lead to diabetes, heart attacks, other heart problems - even premature death because the apnea can cause your heart to begin beating erratically and throwing it into an irregular rhythm that you may not be able to recover from.
One of the most noticeable signs that you might have this condition is snoring that is loud enough to wake others. If others have complained about how loud you snore, it may be time to get that checked out.
Another sign you might notice is that your throat is sore when you first wake up. You might chalk it up to allergies or sleeping in a cool room, but this is caused by snoring. You may have a headache upon waking - and this is caused by both the sleep interruptions and a lack of getting the proper amount of oxygen.
Getting up throughout the night to urinate can be a sign - or you may also wake up feeling like your mouth is full of cotton. Having sleep apnea can make you feel sluggish, cause you to experience periods where you struggle to remember things and it can even cause changes in your mood.
If you are overweight, then you are at high risk for sleep apnea.
If you think you may be suffering with sleep apnea, talk to your doctor for a proper diagnosis and then with your naturopathic doctor to get to the root cause of your problem.