Common symptoms of sleep apnoea

It’s important to recognise the symptoms of sleep-disordered breathing (SDB), obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA), central sleep apnoea (CSA) in patients.

One of the most recognisable symptoms of obstructive sleep apnoea is snoring, even though many patients ignore this sign or fail to recognise it as a symptom of a more serious condition.

Other symptoms of sleep-disordered breathing

As well as snoring, symptoms of sleep-disordered breathing may include:

  • excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS)
  • poor concentration
  • morning headaches
  • depressed mood
  • night sweats
  • weight gain
  • fatigue
  • forgetfulness
  • sexual dysfunction
  • nocturia

If your patient presents with any of these symptoms, it’s important to talk to them about SDB and recommend a sleep test.

These symptoms can also be caused by other conditions so accurate diagnosis is important.

What are the symptoms of sleep-disordered
breathing in children? 

Sleep-disordered breathing also affects up to 3%1 of children, with common symptoms including:

  • habitual snoring (which affects about 3.2 – 12%1,2 of children)
  • noisy breathing/increased work of breathing
  • pauses in breathing with noisy resumption of breathing
  • chronic mouth breathing
  • behavioural problems, such as hyperactivity and aggressiveness
  • restless sleep

There are a number of risk factors that could also predispose children to having sleep-disordered breathing, including:

  • adenotonsillar hypertrophy
  • craniofacial malformation
  • congenital syndromes (e.g. Down’s, Marfan’s, Pierre Robin Sequence, Achondroplasia)
  • obesity

If symptoms of sleep-disordered breathing are observed in a child, it’s important to either refer the child to a paediatric sleep physician and/or recommend a sleep test to determine whether he or she has a breathing disorder. Find out how to request a sleep test.


  1. Gislason T, et al. Chest. 1995
  2. Castronovo V, et al. J of Pediatrics. 2003