Sleep apnea affects about 18 million adults in the United States. It is most common among overweight men. With sleep apnea, the airway becomes blocked or breathing muscles stop moving. Breathing temporarily stops or becomes shallower. This can happen hundreds of times each night.
The clues that you may have sleep apnea include:
- Loud snoring four or more times per week
- Someone telling you that you periodically stop breathing or gasp for air during your sleep
- Daytime drowsiness, just as you describe
- Morning headaches
- A large neck (collar size); 17 inches or more in men, 16 inches or more in women
- History of high blood pressure
If you suspect that you may have sleep apnea, talk with your doctor. The usual test to confirm the diagnosis is a sleep study called a polysomnogram.
A much less likely reason for your symptoms is narcolepsy. People with narcolepsy can fall asleep any time, even when they are standing up and active. It is an uncommon disorder.
Find out more about this book:Harvard Medical School Improving Sleep: A guide to a good night's rest