Symptoms of obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA)

A feeling of being poorly rested after sleep is common, along with the need to take afternoon or daily naps. Because the sleep apnoea events result in repeated sleep interruptions throughout the night, for many people the quality of sleep is affected more than the quantity, in particular deep sleep and rapid eye movement sleep (REM). Loss of sleep during these stages cause the greatest degree of daytime sleepiness. This can affect many aspects of your life including your social life, work life and your ability to drive safely.

Not everyone who snores has sleep apnoea, but nearly everyone who has sleep apnoea snores.  If you snore loudly, disturbing your bed partner to the point where they are having to wear ear plugs, this could be a symptom of sleep apnea. 

If you regularly wake during the night gasping for air, this may be cause for concern. Sometimes your bed partner will be the one who notices a pause in breathing, as though you are holding your breath for several seconds before a loud gasp.

Research suggests that there is a link between obstructive sleep apnoea and erectile dysfunction.

When we stop breathing, we automatically move around, trying to get into a position where the airway is more open. You may feel like you never reach a deep, restorative sleep. This coupled with other symptoms could be a sign of sleep apnoea

Studies reveal that when people fail to get enough sleep, concentration, coordination, memory, and mood suffer. Without restorative sleep, brain power suffers.

If the airway collapses during inspiration (a breath in) while sleeping, the effort of the diaphragm pulling up to breath can create negative pressure in the chest. This pressure can in turn lead to narrowing of the oesophagus, causing it to act like a straw, pulling the contents of the stomach up through the oesophagus and throat, creating the acid burning feeling of gastric reflux in the chest and throat.   

Airway obstruction can result in significant changes within the bloodstream along with increased carbon monoxide. The headaches affect both sides of the head and usually resolve within thirty minutes of waking, because once you’re awake, the lungs move air in and out more efficiently and the carbon dioxide level returns to normal.

Many people with sleep apnoea sleep with their mouths open so this is the likely culprit of a dry mouth or a sore throat.

Many important functions take place in your body while you sleep.  Without necessary rest, hormone levels that play a role in how hungry you feel can be disrupted. Feeling tired can have you reaching for sugary treats or caffeinated drinks, often loaded with calories, to help you wake up and to satisfy your increased hunger. Unfortunately, this can cause a vicious cycle as those extra calories will lead to weight gain which in turn leads to further sleep disruptions.  This is due to the extra weight pressure on your throat causing further collapse of the airway.

Wife Can't Stand Husband's Snoring

What are the effects of sleep apnoea if left untreated?

Sleep apnoea consequences can be significant.  When left untreated, sleep apnoea can lead to several physical issues and diseases, as well as major health complications, including:

  • High blood pressure
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Stroke
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Lack of daytime alertness

You are also 7 times more likely to have a fatal car accident if driving while tired.

Patient stories

Michael’s story 

“I have been using my Somnomed® device for about two years now. It has completely improved the quality of sleep that I get and consequently certain aspects of my life for the better.

On the rare occasion that I forget to put it in the device my sleep deteriorates immediately. It’s invaluable.” Read more

Liz’s story

“Having suffered jaw and tooth pain over several months and following several appointments with my GP and regular dentist to no avail, I asked April (dentist) if she could give me a second opinion. After careful consultation April suggested that sleep apnoea and teeth grinding might be behind the issues and recommended a Somnomed® device to wear at night. Read more

Simon’s story

“My name is Simon Wilsdon I am a general dentist in York with a special interest in dental sleep medicine. Over several years I have experienced mild sleep apnoea and, unfortunately for my wife, loud snoring. I have tried several different mandibular advancement devices over the years. These have given initial improvement but nothing long lasting and were uncomfortable over time. After investigating different options, I decided to give the new SomnoMed® Avant appliance a try. Read more

Mohammed’s story

Mohammed was diagnosed with Severe Sleep Apnoea in 2018.

“For the first year after my diagnosis, I had a CPAP machine in the home, but I really struggled with it, due to the anxiety of the mask being on my face all night. When I saw my Sleep Consultant, I was advised that I should not drive, and my driving license has now been revoked for more than 2 years. I have a family at home, with four children, so having no driving license has really affected our day-to-day lives. Little things like food shopping and trips out are much more difficult. Read more

Roy’s story

Like many people, l became aware that l was snoring during the night and feeling tired in the morning. This led me down the route of seeing my GP who felt l may have obstructive sleep apnoea and referred me to the hospital for further tests. There, l was given the Epworth Sleep Study questionnaire to complete which indicated l had daytime sleepiness but not severely. However further investigation was necessary and an overnight hospital stay was arranged where l had a sleep study conducted. Read more

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