Dr. Wolfe shares if gasping for air upon waking indicates sleep apnea.
When you experience a gasping arousal where you find yourself snorting or starting or gasping as you wake up, it can be a sign of obstructive sleep apnea. Sometimes this can occur because, when you are on your back, your tongue is more likely to fall on your throat. If you turn on your side and the episodes go away, that’s what we call positional therapy.
But in addition to that, there’s something called a sleep start. As you initiate sleep in transition from wakefulness into sleep, there’s a short pause in your breathing. It’s a normal part of initiating sleep, and as long as it only happens just that once as you are falling asleep, it’s not an abnormality or medical condition.
About Dr. Lisa Wolfe, M.D.:
Dr. Lisa Wolfe, M.D., earned her medical degree from Ohio State University College of Medicine and Public Health. She completed her residency and her fellowship at McGaw Medical Center of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, Illinois. Dr. Wolfe is board certified in pulmonary disease, critical care medicine and sleep medicine.