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7 common symptoms of sleep apnea

Are you tossing and turning at night, or waking up with frequent headaches? It might be more than a poor night sleep – you could be experiencing sleep apnea. Veterans experiencing sleep apnea are not alone. One study on over 400 Veterans found that 52% screened positive for sleep apnea symptoms, revealing a common trend among those who have served.

There are two types of sleep apnea:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA): This is the more common form of sleep apnea, occurring when the upper airway repeatedly gets blocked during sleep.

  • Central sleep apnea (CSA): This type of sleep apnea occurs when the brain fails to send the necessary signals for breathing.

Note: Already diagnosed with sleep apnea and trying to begin your VA disability claims process? Here's how the VA rates sleep apnea for disability benefits purposes.

Keep an eye out for these 8 common symptoms of sleep apnea:


  • Not everyone who snores has sleep apnea – so don't take it as a sure sign without any other symptoms. It is, however, highly common for people with the condition to snore while they snooze. Sleep apnea changes the way air passes through the body's airways, often resulting in snoring.

Choking or gasping awake

  • One of the hallmark signs of sleep apnea is paused breathing while asleep. Whether only a few seconds or longer, this usually results in choking or gasping for air that can wake you up.

Headaches upon waking up

  • Headaches on waking up are commonly experienced as a result of sleep apnea due to the decreased oxygen levels that occur during the pauses in breathing.

Tiredness during the day

  • This one's pretty simple – when sleep apnea is present, it's pretty hard to get a decent night of sleep. Between frequent disturbances through the night and sleep debt (when you sleep fewer hours than you need multiple nights in a row), sleep apnea can steal your daytime energy.

Mood swings and depression

  • Sleep apnea can disrupt sleep both in the short and long-term. There's a proven link between poor quality of sleep and mental health complications, where repeated sleep disruptions can both cause and worsen mood swings, anxiety, depression, or other mental health conditions.

Struggling to focus during the day

  • Similarly to the last symptom, it's typical for those affected by sleep apnea to struggle with their focus throughout the daytime. This happens because of diminished cognitive function as a result of poor sleep – making it harder for the brain to function in its regular manner.

Dry mouth

  • When the upper airway becomes blocked, mouth breathing takes place. If this happens for a large portion of the night, people with sleep apnea typically wake up with a dry mouth, throat, or both.

Sleep apnea can be a seriously disruptive condition. By preparing documents for a VA disability benefits claim and taking a C&P exam for sleep apnea, you can receive the help for this condition and begin to ease symptoms.

Do you need supporting documents to prove sleep apnea to the VA?

A strong VA disability benefits claim starts with proper documentation. Nexus Letters, DBQs, chart reviews, and more – we can help you get what you need to be prepared. Sign up for a chart review, and view other services here. Instead of going it alone, work with one of our professional medical experts to get exactly what you need.

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