Obstructive sleep apnoea can cause very loud snoring. People who are affected stop breathing briefly whilst they are asleep. This is often the first sign that the person suffers from the condition if the individual shares a bed. It happens as the airways close due to muscle relaxation. The passage of air is blocked and breathing ceases temporarily. The individual’s blood oxygen level drops and the level of CO2 rises, stimulating the sufferer’s sleep to lighten. They either partially or fully awaken, muscle tone increases and they start to breathe again. Sleep then deepens again and the cycle continues.
Repeated sleep/wake cycles lead to poor sleep quality, daytime sleepiness and poor work performance. These symptoms may be noticed first, before the periods of not breathing, if the person sleeps alone. People fall asleep at inappropriate times such as in meetings and at mealtimes. They are also more prone to crashing from falling asleep at the wheel.
Signs of sleep apnoea include:
- The cessation of breathing for short periods of time many times per night
- Severe snoring
- See-saw movement of the chest and abdomen due to air shunting back-and-forth instead of entering and leaving through the nose
- Being very sleepy during the day
- Sore throat
- Under performance at work due to poor memory and concentration
Sufferers of obstructive sleep apnoea must visit to the doctor at the first opportunity. They will consider referral for sleep studies which will confirm or rule out the diagnosis. Cameras are used to monitor breathing patterns and oxygen levels are measured during sleep. It is important to treat the condition as it can lead to raised blood pressure and an increase in the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Summary. There are several signs of sleep apnoea. These include the stopping of sleep breathing during sleep and irritability. Sleepiness and poor concentration during the day are other features.