Sleep apnea is a condition in which a person's breathing is frequently interrupted or becomes very shallow while sleeping. Short-term effects of apnea include chronic fatigue, headaches and irritability. But if left untreated, severe apnea can pose serious health risks, such as diabetes, hypertension, stroke or heart disease. Sleep apnea can affect people of all ages, though certain factors may increase one's risk: being male and over 40 years of age, being overweight, or having allergies or other sinus problems.
Sleep apnea is often accompanied by several telltale signs. People who suffer from the condition may experience the following symptoms:
- Loud snoring with intermittent periods of silence lasting anywhere from 10 seconds to a minute or more. Sleeping partners may notice these instances are often followed by gasping or choking episodes for air.
- Restlessness in your sleep.
- Waking up tired and not refreshed in the morning.
- Grogginess and fatigue during the day, leading to episodes of falling asleep in unexpected situations, including at work, while driving or on the phone.
- Headaches throughout the day.
- Depression, irritability and difficulty concentrating or remembering things, among other symptoms.