Sleep apnea: Symptoms 

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Sleep apnea: Symptoms 

Up to 5% of women and up to 14% of men currently suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and the symptoms are easy to recognise. Despite its prevalence, 90% of cases go undiagnosed. In most cases, people don’t even realise that they have the condition. In this article we’ll let you know what signs to watch out for so you’ll be able to recognise the symptoms of sleep apnea. 

Sleep apnea: Self diagnosis

There are many symptoms that can indicate a tendency towards sleep apnea. Knowing them will allow you to carry out your own diagnosis. Easy-to-spot symptoms include:

  • Waking up tired, feeling as though you haven’t slept
  • Morning headaches
  • Feeling sleepy during the day
  • Difficulty concentrating or remembering
  • Irritability or even depression
  • Non restorative sleep
  • Night sweats
  • Frequent trips to the bathroom (“nocturia”)
  • Reduced libido and / or impotence 

If you have problems sleeping, including sleep apnea, you should keep a close eye on your symptoms. Sleep apnea caries risks that could have a negative effect on overall health in the long term. That’s why you’re advised to seek diagnosis to find out whether or not you have it. 

sleep apnea symptoms
Sleep apnea: Symptoms noticed by a bed partner

Regardless of severity, there are many symptoms when it comes to sleep apnea. But they’re not always easy to pick up on. In fact, in most cases, people often don’t realise that they’re snoring, much less that they are having breathing irregularities. Most often, it’s the person sharing a bed with the sleep apnea sufferer who first notices the symptoms of the condition. 

Those symptoms are:

  • Loud snoring: everyone with OSA snores, in fact snoring for sufferers can reach as high as 100 decibels, which is the equivalent of the noise made by a truck).
  • Pauses in breathing during sleep. These are easy to spot for a bed partner to notice because the sleeper suddenly stops snoring for around 10 seconds before starting again. These pauses in snoring are actually due to pauses in breathing.
  • Nighttime awakenings.
  • Frequent changes in sleeping position.

Loud snoring and pauses in breathing are the sleep apnea symptoms that are most easily noticed by a bed partner. Particular attention should be paid to how these symptoms evolve.


There are many symptoms of sleep apnea but they can be hard to spot for the person concerned. This explains why OSA goes undiagnosed in 90% of cases. So pay close attention to the symptoms we’ve listed here.

Ìf you think you may already have sleep apnea symptoms, check out our article “Sleep Apnea: Diagnosis” for advice on what steps to take. We hope this article will help you to identify this sleep disorder more easily. If you have any questions or comments feel free to get in touch and we’ll be happy to help. 

Main takeaways

How common is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)?

Up to 5% of women and up to 14% of men suffer from OSA.

How do I know if I have OSA?

While 90% of cases are undiagnosed, common symptoms to look out for include headaches on waking, non restorative sleep, daytime fatigue, night sweats, and frequent awakenings.

How do I know if my partner has OSA?

Symptoms that are hard to miss for a bed partner are loud snoring, pauses in breathing and frequent changes in sleeping position.

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