The most common signs of sleep apnea are: Loud snoring; Times during the night when your partner notices that you stopped breathing during sleep; Gasping for air when sleeping; Difficulty staying asleep; Waking up with a dry mouth; Waking up with a headache; Excessive daytime sleepiness; and Irritability.

Scientists are not sure what causes obstructive sleep apnea in some people and not others. Some researchers think that OSA is caused by a neurological issue in which a problem with the brain signals result in excessive relaxation of the tongue and soft palate.

Causes and Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

Apnea is more common among those who are male, middle-aged, overweight, or sleep on their back, but is not limited to only people who fit this description. 

Smoking, drinking alcohol and using sedatives or tranquilizers also increases risk. 

Central sleep apnea frequently occurs in people who have other serious illnesses such as chronic heart failure, brainstem or upper spinal injuries, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, kidney failure and severe arthritis. 

Users of certain drugs, including opiates can also experience CSA.

Sleep apnea also occurs among children, affecting between 1-4% of all children including infants. Pediatric sleep apnea is most common between the ages of two and eight but can occur at any age. It can cause mood problems, inattentiveness, hyperactivity and poor impulse control. Some children suffering from pediatric sleep apnea may be misdiagnosed as having attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

In children who have ADHD, pediatric sleep apnea worsens the symptoms. Having untreated pediatric sleep apnea increases the risk of having cardiovascular disease later in life, especially if the child is obese.