Signs of sleep apnea

Finally working out that you have sleep apnea can make sense of the constant snoring and daytime tiredness you’ve been feeling. You weren’t imagining it.

Now you’re in a good place to move forward and find the restful sleep you’ve been missing out on for so long.

Sleep apnea signs and symptoms checklist

The key signs of sleep apnea are:

Daytime tiredness
High blood pressure
Stopping breathing during sleep
Women: Neck size more than 41 centimetres
Men: Neck size more than 43 centimetres

How is sleep apnea diagnosed?1

Obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea diagnosis
Moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea diagnosis
Mild sleep apnea diagnosis
Central sleep apnea diagnosis

Both obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea are diagnosed by a sleep test. Your sleep test will diagnose your sleep apnea as mild, moderate or severe depending on how many apnea events you have per hour. An event is complete or partial loss of breath for 10 seconds or longer. Complete loss of breath is called an apnea. Partial loss of breath is called a hypopnea.

  • Normal sleep: fewer than 5 events per hour
  • Mild sleep apnea between 5 and 14 events per hour
  • Moderate sleep apnea: 15 to 29 events per hour
  • Severe sleep apnea: 30 or more events per hour

If your sleep apnea has been diagnosed as moderate to severe, you are at risk of long term health problems if it’s left untreated. There are a number of treatment options you can consider to relieve your symptoms. Lifestyle changes may also be recommended.


Unlike moderate to severe sleep apnea, mild obstructive sleep apnea has less risk attached to it and is often successfully managed with lifestyle changes and regular follow-up monitoring.2 If these measures don’t improve your symptoms, then it may be time to consider treatment.


If you’re diagnosed with central sleep apnea and you have no noticeable symptoms, your doctor will most likely recommend lifestyle changes as the first option, or a breathing device if the condition is more severe. Central sleep apnea is often associated with other conditions, so treatment of those conditions is an important part of therapy.

Sleep apnea tests

To diagnose sleep apnea, you can choose to have a home sleep test, which means you get to sleep in the comfort of your own bed, or alternatively, you can do a sleep test at hospital or in a specialist sleep lab. Find out about the home sleep test.

Do you think you might have sleep apnea? Complete the free sleep assessment to see if you’re at risk.

Free sleep assessment

There are several different treatment options for sleep apnea, depending on the type and severity of sleep apnea. Find out about all the treatment options and how they work.




Source: Littner MR. J Clin Sleep Med. 2007 Apr 15; 3(3): 263–264.