Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder characterized by partial or complete obstruction of your airway while you sleep. It occurs when the tongue is sucked up against the back of the throat. The most obvious signs of sleep apnea are snoring, daytime sleepiness, or waking up gasping from sleep. However, there are other signs that many people don’t initially recognize as related to sleep apnea. Here are six surprising signs you may have sleep apnea.
FREQUENTLY URINATING AT NIGHT
If you find yourself making multiple trips to the bathroom in the middle of the night, you may have sleep apnea. Known as nocturia, this condition can be caused by many different factors, but it’s a common symptom in people with obstructive sleep apnea. Lack of restful sleep inhibits the production of anti-diuretic hormone (ADH), which prevents us from peeing at night. Also, sleeping less deeply leads to more awareness of the need to use the bathroom.
WAKING UP WITH A HEADACHE
When you consider the mechanics of sleep apnea, it doesn’t come as a surprise that individuals who wake frequently throughout the night are prone to morning headaches. Combine decreased oxygen flow to the brain and unrestful sleep and you have a perfect recipe for headaches. These types of morning headaches occur frequently, on both sides of the head.
Many people with obstructive sleep apnea report consistently waking up with a dry mouth. Sleep apnea sufferers unconsciously breathe through the mouth in an attempt to increase oxygen flow. This method of breathing is likely to dry out the mouth and even cause a sore throat. What you may dismiss as just an “annoying” issue may be an indication of an underlying sleep problem and the risk of sleep apnea.
UNCONTROLLED HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE
When a person is taking at least two blood pressure medications and still can’t keep it under control, there’s a likelihood that they have sleep apnea. The sympathetic nervous system of sleep apnea sufferers becomes activated when their breathing is repeatedly paused during sleep, causing a spike in blood pressure.
It’s easy to write off that acid reflux or nighttime heartburn as the result of an overindulgent dinner. But if you experience frequent episodes of acid reflux in the morning when you wake up, you may need to have your sleep evaluated. Sleep apnea weakens the lower esophageal sphincter, which makes stomach acid more likely to back up into the esophagus.
Sleep apnea is a fairly common condition that compromises the quality of sleep and also affects your day-to-day life and wellbeing. Fortunately, there are various treatments that can help maintain airflow while you sleep. If you identify with any of the symptoms of sleep apnea, speak with your doctor to get a sleep evaluation and start treatment.