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4 Mild Sleep Apnea Symptoms You Should Know

By Ashley Hinson
Being aware of the more subtle signs of sleep apnea could aid you in getting a proper diagnosis for your sleep issues.

Sleep apnea is a condition that disturbs breathing while you sleep. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, the disorder increases your risk of heart attack, stroke, and diabetes. Some signs of sleep apnea can be quite prominent, such as loud snoring and gasping for air during sleep. But you may need to pay closer attention to detect some of the condition's more subtle signs. Here are four mild sleep apnea symptoms you should know. 

Dry mouth

Dry mouth is caused by mouth breathing

“When you’re dealing with sleep apnea, you’re dealing with three types of apnea: obstructive, which blocks air through the lungs, central sleep apnea, when your brain forgets to breathe, so it isn’t obstructive, and a combination of the two,” Todd Parnes, DO and facial plastic surgeon at Platinum ENT and Bethesda Hospital, tells WebMD Connect to Care.  

If you have sleep apnea, you may experience dry mouth when you wake up in the morning. 

“The most common form of sleep apnea is obstructive. People are trying to obtain more air, so the mouth opens more when obstruction occurs,” Parnes says. 


According to Mayo Clinic, repeatedly waking up during the night makes it impossible to get restorative sleep. This means you’re more likely to be irritable and experience fatigue

“Fatigue happens when you’re not well-rested. When the person wakes up in the morning, they need extra time to wake themselves up then end up saying, ‘I need a nap,’  at 1-2 P.M., and this is not normal for an adult,” Parnes says. 

Many people are unaware that their sleep cycle is being consistently disrupted by sleep apnea, because night awakenings can be very brief. This can make it difficult to directly connect fatigue to sleep apnea—especially if the fatigue is mild. 

However, it’s important to take fatigue seriously, as “it will disrupt your work and school schedule. Productivity goes down,” Parnes says. 


Experiencing headaches is a non-specific symptom of disordered sleep, but experiencing them along with other new symptoms can be a mild sign of sleep apnea. 

“When you're dealing with sleep apnea, headaches come from oxygen deprivation. If someone says to me, ‘My life has changed over the...year. I put on 15 pounds. I didn’t eat well and have morning headaches,’ that would be consistent with sleep apnea headaches,” Parnes says.

Daytime Forgetfulness

Sleep deprivation doesn’t allow your mind to go through the sleep cycles it needs to process information and recall memories.

“Someone with sleep apnea will say, ‘I don’t remember my dreams.’ Every time you obstruct, you never get that dream stage of sleep. That’s why it fogs the mind. You need your brain to be rested throughout the night to sleep. With sleep apnea you don’t really get the chance to turn off your brain,” Parnes explains. 

Think you may have sleep apnea? Start your journey to more restful sleep TODAY.

Untreated sleep disorders can negatively affect your physical and emotional health. Sleep testing can help you get the answers you need to receive the treatment you deserve. WebMD Connect to Care Advisors are standing by to help.