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DrSugar Answers: Sleep Apnea?

DrSugar is in the house and answering your questions.

Hey DrSugar,
I am a very healthy person. I eat healthy, I am of normal weight, no health conditions and I exercise regularly; however, recently, I've been waking myself up with a snort — I guess like sleep apnea. Why is this happening and should I be concerned?
Sleepless Sugar

Does this happen to you too? To hear what DrSugar has to say,


Let's start at the beginning. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is defined by pauses in breathing during sleep, and it is considered a serious disease because it can lead to a form of heart failure. Obesity is the most important risk factor for the development of sleep apnea. However, it is still possible to develop sleep apnea if you are of normal weight like you are. Risk factors for obstructive sleep apnea also include a wide neck circumference, high blood pressure, smoking, having a narrow throat, and being older than 40.

I was recently told by a sleep medicine specialist that 3 questions should be used to screen for sleep apnea: Do you snore loudly? Does your bedroom partner notice periods of pauses in breathing? Do you experience excessive daytime sleepiness? If you answered yes to these questions then further investigation involving a sleep study may be indicated to determine whether you truly have sleep apnea.

With regards to your waking yourself up with a snort, this may or may not indicate sleep apnea. The definition of sleep apnea requires an average of five apnea events per hour of sleep. It is actually more common to not notice these episodes than it is to be completely awoken by them, which is why sleep apnea is often diagnosed by a bedroom partner. If you answered yes to the questions above I would recommend seeing your doctor and asking about the possibility of taking a sleep study. More info can be found at the American Sleep Apnea Association.

If you have a question for DrSugar, send me a private message here and I will forward it to the good doctor.

DrSugar's posts are for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment recommendations. Click here for more details.

cravinsugar cravinsugar 9 years
I can only answer yes to one of those questions...i have excessive day time sleepiness. I will occassinally wake myself up witha snort, but I don't snore (according to my boyf). I will ask him to pay attention if I am pausing while I breathe.
sparklestar sparklestar 9 years
I worry that I have this at the moment... I snore excessively and wake up around every 2 hours I am asleep. I'm going to get the doctor to check me out soon. My boyfriend doesn't notice pauses in my breathing though.
hithatsmybike hithatsmybike 9 years
you couldn't find a female doctor?
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