Sometimes language can be tricky to us. We have a tendency to use words in overlapping meanings. One of the more common words that we use in an overlapping way is the simple description of feeling “tired.” Often, we can use this word to refer to both fatigue and sleepiness, but it’s important to be able to understand the difference so you can track down the most likely cause of your distress and get the best treatment available.

What Is Sleepiness?

Sleepiness is a feeling that you might fall asleep. It’s caused by sleep deprivation. You will likely feel decreased alertness and an inability to focus on particular tasks. You will miss individual items in a long list. Your attention will wander. You will find that time passes without your noticing.

Sleepiness can make it difficult for you to find motivation to work

You may find it difficult to motivate yourself to work, but once you get working, you find you are generally capable of physical or mental effort, though after a short period of focused energy you will find your attention wandering again and the propensity to sleep will come on you again. You’ll be risk-averse and even effort-averse.

What Is Fatigue?

Fatigue occurs when you feel exhausted from extreme or repeated effort. You may feel weary, but you might actually find you have difficulty sleeping. You may feel that sleep is desirable, but if you find yourself in a quiet moment in a comfortable position, you aren’t actually able to sleep.

You will react slower, and have decreased physical and mental energy. You will have difficulty motivating yourself to act, and even once you start acting, you will experience reduced energy and ability. You may experience anxiety and irritability, but you may tend to engage in risky behavior.

You may have difficulty communicating your ideas and may also have difficulty thinking of solutions to problems.

Which Is Associated with Sleep Apnea?

Actually, both are. However, sleepiness is more common in sleep apnea. People with sleep apnea will almost always experience sleepiness because they experience interrupted sleep. However, they can also experience fatigue because sleep apnea is hard on the body. With the heart working harder and the body unable to rest, people can start to feel fatigued as a result of their sleep apnea.

If you are feeling daytime sleepiness or fatigue that you think may be related to sleep apnea, please call (402) 493-4175 for an appointment with an Omaha sleep dentist at the Advanced Dental Sleep Center.