If you’ve ever been unable to go to sleep because your spouse, roommate, or even neighbor (in an apartment with thin walls (is snoring loudly), then you understand the kind of frustration that snoring can cause. If you can’t get a good night’s sleep, then everything else that you do in your life can have a tendency to be affected.
Sleep apnea is a recently discovered sleeping disorder that is often associated with loud snoring. Today, with the continued prevalence of health problems related to snoring, many people assume that the two are always interrelated.
Although, there is a strong possibility that your loud snoring could be related to a sleeping disorder such as sleep apnea, this is not always the case. About 50% of the time, snoring is just snoring and that’s all. This may be why people often don’t respond to snoring by getting a health checkup, as they assume that it’s nothing.
But if half of the time snoring is just snoring, then the other half of the time snoring may be a sign of a serious and even dangerous health condition. One of the most common sleeping conditions related to snoring is sleep apnea.
What is Sleep Apnea?
This sleeping disorder is categorized by irregular breathing that happens while the person is sleeping. Rather that breathing in regular rhythms, a person with sleep apnea stops breathing for longer periods of times, possibly more than ten seconds or up to a minute. When this happens, the brain starts the body awake in order for it to resume breathing. In people who have severe cases of sleep apnea, these types of breathing episodes can occur up to 30 times per hour.
The lack of regular breathing associated with sleep apnea causes the person to be limited in oxygen intake. This, then, affects the heart as it tries to pump oxygen to the body and brain faster, often resulting in high blood pressure and other health problems.
People who have sleep apnea will often first notice it as their family members or roommates will comment on their extremely loud snoring during sleep. But sleep apnea has a myriad of other symptoms in addition to loud snoring, including:
- Daytime sleepiness, even during activity such as driving
- Waking up with headaches
- Insomnia, inability to sleep well, or waking up feeling more tired than before sleep
- Occasionally waking up with a feeling of choking or gasping
- Mood changes, irritability, relationship struggles
- Decreased sex drive
- Fatigue or lack of energy during the day
- Waking up with a very dry mouth or sore throat
- High blood pressure
Does My Snoring Solution Work for Sleep Apnea?
Whether or not your snoring solution will work for sleep apnea depends on the cause of your sleep apnea and which snoring solution you are using. If your sleep apnea and snoring are caused by excess tissue around your throat and face, then losing weight will likely help to mitigate your sleep apnea breathing episodes as well as eliminating your problems with snoring.
In the same way, if your sleep apnea and snoring are caused by a recessed jaw and your dentist has prescribed an oral appliance that helps to open up the breathing passages during sleep, then this will likely take care of your snoring problem and encourage healthy breathing at the same time.
People who smoke, drink alcohol, or use tranquilizer-type drugs may be more likely to exhibit snoring as well as signs of sleep apnea. In this case, the solution would be to stop the use of these substances so that both snoring and sleep apnea issues could be resolved.
On the other hand, if your snoring is caused by a deviated septum or obstructed nasal passages due to allergies, then losing weight or getting a dental appliance fitted will not eliminate your snoring problem or your sleep apnea. Some people also have sleep apnea related to a problem with their brain or central nervous system failing to communicate to the respiratory system that they should breathe (central sleep apnea (CSA). In this case, problems with snoring may not be related to sleep apnea, but a doctor can make recommendations on how to treat these issues.
Of course, anyone who has a serious medical condition such as sleep apnea, or even someone who thinks that it is “only snoring” should put themselves under the care of a medical professional. This will make sure that they are getting the health care ad treatments they need for their specific situation.
Loud Snoring and Sleep Apnea Treatments
The cause of your loud snoring will determine what the treatment needs to be. In the case of sleep apnea, options for treatment will not only minimize or eliminate the snoring problems, but will also increase your ability to get restorative sleep. Because it comes on gradually, many people with sleep apnea don’t realize how much it is affecting their quality of life (and their family’s life) until they are treated. Heart failure, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, weight gain, stroke, high blood pressure, atrial fibrillation, and even premature death have all been associated with the lack of oxygen related to sleep apnea.
The most common treatment for sleep apnea is the use of a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine. This machine connects to the nose and/or mouth through a hose and forces air through the breathing passages all throughout the night, not allowing them to close up and interrupt the body’s ability to breathe.
Since one of the causes of sleep apnea is carrying extra weight so that the tissues of the neck block breathing, many people find that losing weight can minimize snoring as well as restoring regular breathing episodes.
Positional therapy is another commonly used treatment for sleep apnea and snoring. As gravity often exacerbates a person’s snoring or breathing problems during sleep, changing from sleeping on the back to sleeping on the side or stomach may help with this issues. Some people employ the use of a specialized sleep apnea pillow or adjustable mattress in order to maintain a healthier sleeping position.
Whether you or a family member are “just” snoring or your snoring is related to a serious problem such as sleep apnea, a doctor and/or dentist should be able to help find a solution. After being sleep deprived for months or even years due to snoring and sleep apnea, the ability to get a good night’s sleep again could truly change your life!