At least 45% of people have occasional bouts of snoring, with 25% of snorers making it a regular habit. Snoring is just one of many symptoms of a serious condition known as sleep apnea, which happens when your upper airway gets blocked during sleep and cuts off your oxygen supply.
You may suffer from snoring because of an allergy, a nasal obstruction, or enlarged tonsils and adenoids. Of course, this structural snoring can be disruptive to your partner, or even embarrassing, but it isn’t as serious as sleep apnea.
The only way to know for sure if your snoring is related to sleep apnea is to undergo a sleep study, but there are other indications that it’s more than just noisy sleep.
Why snoring happens
Snoring happens when the muscles of your throat relax during sleep. Your tongue falls back and your throat narrows. The slack muscles of your throat vibrate as you breathe in and out, creating the sounds of snoring. The more your muscles collapse and your throat narrows, the louder the sounds. When your throat collapses entirely and your breathing is blocked, sleep apnea occurs.
Males are more likely to be snorers, as are people who are overweight or obese. Because the throat muscles relax more with age, older people tend to snore more as well.
If you have a deviated nasal septum or nasal polyps, or a simple respiratory infection, snoring may be an issue. And some sleep positions, such as sleeping on your back, can cause the throat to collapse more, causing you to snore.
Signs that it’s more serious
Snoring is usually present with sleep apnea, but it’s only one of several symptoms. Sleep apnea sufferers can awaken between 30 and 300 times per night; their snoring tends to be heavy and disruptive. With sleep apnea, your sleeping position may have no effect on whether you snore.
Besides snoring-related issues, you may awaken with a gasping sensation, like you just can’t get enough air. This can be so startling that it alerts your partner.
Insomnia and restless sleep are also common with sleep apnea. Daytime sleepiness and lack of energy are indicators of the poor sleep that occurs when you have apnea. You may awaken with a sore, dry throat and headaches. Mood changes and a decrease in libido can also result.
Why is sleep apnea a concern?
Sleep apnea causes disrupted sleep and general feelings of fatigue and tiredness. It also correlates with the onset of several conditions; in some cases, these conditions coexist with sleep apnea. Sleep apnea raises your risk of:
- High blood pressure
- Weight gain
- Acid reflux
- Heart disease
- Adult asthma
- Car accidents (due to sleepy driving)
- Type 2 diabetes
If you’re a snorer, don’t just laugh it off.
The experts at Chester Family Dentistry evaluate your symptoms and oral structure to help you determine if your snoring is a symptom of sleep apnea. You may benefit from a custom-fitted oral appliance that comfortably keeps your throat open as you sleep, facilitating the flow of air and a deeper, more restful sleep.
More peaceful, satisfying sleep is in your future. Contact Dr. Dagati and his team today for an appointment.