Symptoms - Obstructive sleep apnoea

The symptoms of obstructive sleep apneoea (OSA) are often first spotted by a partner, friend or family member. They notice problems while you sleep.

Signs of OSA in someone sleeping can include:

  • loud snoring
  • noisy and laboured breathing
  • repeated short periods where your breathing is interrupted by gasping or snorting

You may have night sweats and wake up a lot during the night to pee.

During an episode, the lack of oxygen triggers your brain to pull you out of deep sleep. This can be to a lighter sleep or to wakefulness, so your airway reopens and you can breathe normally.

These repeated sleep interruptions can make you feel very tired during the day. You'll usually have no memory of your interrupted breathing, so you may be unaware you have a problem.

When to seek medical advice

Talk to your GP if you think you might have OSA.

They can check for other possible reasons for your symptoms. They can also arrange for a sleep assessment in a sleep centre.

As someone with OSA may not notice they have the condition, it often goes undiagnosed.

Content supplied by the NHS and adapted for Ireland by the HSE.

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This project has received funding from the Government of Ireland’s Sláintecare Integration Fund 2019 under Grant Agreement Number 123.

Page last reviewed: 22 December 2020
Next review due: 22 December 2023