Sleep Apnea Symptoms

Medically Reviewed by Sabrina Felson, MD on July 15, 2023
2 min read

You may have heard that frequent snoring is a sign of sleep apnea. It's true that snoring is one of the most common symptoms. But not everyone who has sleep apnea snores. And of course, not everyone who snores has sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea causes breathing disturbances while you sleep. Your breath might pause from time to time. Your breathing could become very shallow. Or both of these things may happen.

You may not even know you're doing this until a partner or roommate tells you. For many people, the only obvious symptom of sleep apnea is fatigue or sleepiness during the day.

Sleep apnea symptoms differ from person to person. But they may include:

  • Loud snoring. It might come and go through the night, and be loud enough to wake others near you.
  • Waking up with a very sore or dry throat. This happens because apnea often causes you to breathe with your mouth open.
  • Dry mouth, also caused by mouth breathing.
  • Occasionally waking up with a choking or gasping sensation.
  • Restless sleep, repeated awakenings, or insomnia.
  • Sleepiness or lack of energy during the day, even after a full night's sleep. You might not be aware of it, but your breathing problems may wake you several times during the night.
  • Sleepiness while driving.
  • Morning headaches. Scientists aren't sure why people with sleep apnea get these. It might be because of poor sleep or a lack of oxygen caused by the breathing problems.
  • Forgetfulness, mood swings, and a loss of interest in sex. Lack of sleep can lead to these symptoms.
  • Dizziness when you wake up. This might be linked to low oxygen levels.
  • Nightmares. Some research has found a link between apnea and bad dreams. But we need more studies on this.

If you often have any these symptoms, talk to your doctor about them. If your doctor suspects you have sleep apnea, they'll refer you for sleep testing.