It’s pretty common knowledge that sleeping well is crucial to staying healthy. But have you ever started describing the way you sleep to a friend, only to hear them say, “That doesn’t sound good. Maybe you have sleep apnea”? If you don’t know what to look for, you may think that the way you sleep is normal. Here are some things to consider.

Breathing patterns

Perhaps your significant other complains that you snore or gasp in your sleep. Or perhaps you’ve experienced reduced/absent breathing. Also called “apnea events,” missing breaths or less breathing while sleeping is a symptom of sleep apnea. If you’re breathing through your mouth or your mouth is dry when you wake up, your breathing patterns are probably irregular and need to be observed by a professional.

Exhaustion/fatigue

How about daytime drowsiness? Do you find it hard to get through the day without several cups of coffee and a nap? If you’re getting 7-9 hours of sleep every night and are still exhausted throughout the day, you may have sleep apnea. Keep a sleep log so you can gauge your tiredness in comparison with how much sleep you’re getting.

Quality of sleep

Do you sleep well or do you wake up feeling like you just ran a marathon? Sleep apnea sufferers have trouble falling asleep (insomnia) and typically don’t sleep deeply or soundly, which leads to frequent nightmares. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, sleep apnea happens when your upper airway becomes blocked repeatedly during sleep, reducing or completely stopping airflow! If your brain isn’t sending the necessary signals to your body for you to breathe, you could develop sleep apnea. Undiagnosed or untreated sleep apnea prevents restful sleep and can cause complications that affect other parts of your body. In fact, sleep apnea can cause headaches, depression, mood swings, irritability and weight gain. Don’t assume poor sleep is normal! Talk to someone about your symptoms today.