What Does Sleep Apnea Feel Like?

“Could I have sleep apnea?” If you’re suffering from sleep apnea or you suspect you’re suffering from sleep apnea, you’ll probably be suffering from the following symptoms. Left untreated, you can develop some worrying symptoms, so it’s important that you get it treated and that you don’t dismiss your symptoms as ‘just’ snoring or ‘just’ not sleeping properly. Below are some common side effects and symptoms that you should be watching out for.

Daytime Fatigue

You may dismiss being tired in the daytime as just being a little bit rundown, but combined with all of the other symptoms of sleep apnea it can leave you feeling lousy. Daytime fatigue in itself causes irritation, mood swings, difficulty in concentrating and reduced performance at work. The reason that you’ll be more tired in the daytime is because your body is unable to complete the full cycle of sleep in the night because of the snoring, choking and cessation of breathing that occurs during the night.

Sore Throat

It’s likely that you’ll wake up each morning with a sore throat. This is caused by the gasping that takes place during the night as you struggle for breath – this happens when soft tissue closes in the back of your throat, closing off your airways. Sore throats are especially common in those who breathe with their mouths open.

Gaining Weight

Being unable to lose existing weight or gaining weight is an indicator, combined with other symptoms, of sleep apnea. It’s a bit of a vicious cycle, because those who are overweight to start with may develop sleep apnea because of excess soft tissue in the back of their throat, but losing weight is difficult for those with sleep apnea because lack of sleep tends to thwart most weight loss efforts.


Severe headaches, in conjunction with these other symptoms, shouldn’t be ignored. They’re caused by low oxygen levels within the blood when you’re asleep. When you stop breathing, even for a few seconds, your brain is starved of oxygen which in turn starves your blood of oxygen. If this happens consistently through the night, you’ll wake up feeling groggy and in pain.

Inability to Fight Infection

If you find that you’re having more coughs, colds and general infections than usual, along with the other symptoms listed, that is an indicator of sleep apnea. When you can’t sleep properly because of compromised breathing, as mentioned before, your body doesn’t get to complete the full sleep cycle. Not being able to complete this cycle means that not only is your sleep compromised, your immune system becomes lowered and your body becomes less able to fight off infection.

Waking Up in the Night

It’s common for you to wake up in the night if you have sleep apnea. You may find yourself snoring very loudly, waking up your partner, or you may wake yourself up. You could find yourself waking up gasping for breath or with a jolt.

What Sleep Apnea Can Lead to

Sleep apnea can lead to significant heart problems. Because you have lowered oxygen levels within your blood, your heart has to work harder to pump the blood around your body. When your heart is continually working harder to pump the blood around your body it can lead to high blood pressure which in turn can lead to more devastating heart problems.

What Can I Do?

If you find that you’re suffering with some of these side effects and symptoms, your first port of call should be your primary care physician. They can then refer you to the right specialists and onto treatment. If you already have a diagnosis of sleep apnea and are being treated for it and are still suffering with these symptoms, you should go back to your doctor and request new treatment options.