Why You Shouldn’t Ignore Sleep Apnea

man snoring while in bed with a woman who is covering her head with a pillow

Do you wake up abruptly throughout the night? Is it from snoring (or from your significant other nudging you because you were snoring)?

Most know that heavy snoring and sleep apnea is not good for your health, but many tend to ignore these signs.

Occasional snoring is usually not very serious. However, if it happens frequently, you are impairing your own sleep quality and could be setting yourself up for several health problems. It doesn’t matter if you wake up every few minutes or once an hour. If your sleeping pattern is making you feel tired the next morning, it’s time to see your doctor.

An individual that wakes up throughout the night could be suffering from sleep apnea. People with untreated sleep apnea stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep. This means the brain -- and the rest of the body -- may not get enough oxygen. Often times, an individual may wake up suddenly, which allows the muscles in their airways to readjust, and then fall back asleep without even knowing what happened.

Call Your Physician if You Experience These Symptoms

Sleep apnea can lead to high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, weight gain, heart problems and other health conditions. If you, or your partner, notice any of these symptoms, call your physician for evaluation.

Nightmares wake you up

There’s nothing wrong if you experience the occasional nightmare. The problem arises if you have chronic nightmares that cause you to wake in terror at least once a week. Since you are not sleeping through the entire night, nightmares can lead to fatigue, anxiety and depression.

Chronic nightmares tend to be triggered by psychological stress -- such as that stemming from posttraumatic stress disorder or a severe anxiety disorder. However, other factors such as alcohol abuse, sleep apnea, some dementias and the use of certain medications can lead to nightmares.

You do things you can't remember

When you wake up in the morning, does your significant other tell you about the odd things you did the previous night? This isn’t something you should simply laugh off. If this happens frequently, you could have a REM sleep behavior disorder. This occurs when your brain is in REM sleep, but your muscles are acting out your dreams. Frequently, many of the common sleep medications that people take, such as Ambien, are the cause of this issue. You should see a doctor if you are experiencing this, as it could escalate to sleep walking or sleep driving depending. Also, speak to your physician if you are having difficulty falling or staying asleep – there are many things you can do without relying on medications that can have potentially dangerous side effects.

You wake up with tooth and facial pain

Many people that experience this type of discomfort when they wake up are grinding or clenching their teeth throughout the night. This action can be caused by a number of things, including stress, depression and dreams. Interestingly, this action occurs during short awakenings throughout the night.

If you do these actions for an extended period of time, call your dentist or your physician. There may be ways you can relieve stress prior to bed or wear some type of night guard that will help to protect your teeth, thus relieving pain.

You experience stomach aches in the AM

There can be several causes of morning abdominal pain including constipation, indigestion and irritable bowel syndrome. If this is the case, simple changes to your diet or workout regimen, or medications, could help to reduce the discomfort. However, one of most common, and potentially most serious, reasons to experience stomach pain is gastric reflux, or even peptic ulcer disease. Individuals with gastric reflux and ulcers often feel nauseated in the morning. This may be accompanied by loss of appetite, nausea and fever. It is important to see a doctor if you experience these symptoms, consistently.

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